Still, even though Westbrook is recovering from fairly recent surgery to repair an ankle problem, the Eagles don’t plan to sign another tailback as camp approaches.
“We’re a little inexperienced, but at this point at running back we
think we have some real quality people there,” Eagles president Joe
Banner said Wednesday, according to Bob Brookover of the Philadelphia Inquirer. “We expect that we’re going to go into camp and
the guys we have are going to put us in a good position to be
successful. Running back is one of those positions where younger players can step in and have success.”
Banner is right. We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again. (If nothing else, it allows us to avoid coming up with new quasi-original thoughts.) There are many, many players at the college level who can play running back effectively in the NFL, if they get blocking and proper instruction on how to hold onto the ball when they’re hit by NFL-caliber defenders.
So why throw cash at Warrick Dunn or Edgerrin James, especially when those players would occupy a position on the depth chart that otherwise entails playing special teams?
The other reality is that the older guys aren’t cheap. Though the NFL has created a system that allows veteran players to be signed at a reduced cap charge, the teams still pay out the full dollars of the $850,000 minimum salary paid to guys with ten or more years of service.
Given the economy and the possible effort to tighten belts in order to sell the notion that the current labor agreement must change dramatically, there’s simply no reason for any team that needs a tailback at the bottom of the depth chart to pay for a guy with a big name and a large minimum salary.