The Chargers' decision to release LaDainian Tomlinson on Monday set off speculation whether the Vikings might be interested in the veteran running back provided Chester Taylor leaves as an unrestricted free agent.
Well, another name has now joined the list. The Eagles have announced their intention to jettison Brian Westbrook after eight seasons. The 30-year-old Westbrook would have been due $7.25 million this season and has battled concussion, knee and ankle problems.
Westbrook's availability is interesting because if you are going to connect the dots from Tomlinson to Minnesota, it wouldn't seem to be a stretch to do the same for Westbrook and the Vikings. The issue, of course, becomes which running back has more left in the tank, understanding that both are near the end of their careers.
Westbrook's obvious tie to the Vikings would be coach Brad Childress. Childress was with the Eagles from 1999 to 2005 and became the offensive coordinator in Philadelphia the same year that Westbrook joined the team as a third-round pick out of Division I-AA Villanova in 2002.
Westbrook certainly is familiar with the West Coast offense the Vikings run -- there are differences between what the Vikings and Eagles do -- and in his prime he was a very good receiver out of the backfield. The issue is that Westbrook missed nine games last season.
Still, the Vikings might be an interesting fit for a guy who would be asked to play on third down behind Adrian Peterson.
We should note the Vikings can sign guys like Tomlinson and Westbrook because they were cut by their teams. The Vikings, Saints, Colts and Jets are not eligible to sign unrestricted free agents starting at 11:01 p.m. March 4 unless they lose one of their own UFAs. Even then, the Vikings could only give a contact to a UFA that is the same as the player they lost.
However, that rule does not prohibit the Vikings from pursuing a player cut by his team or a restricted free agent.
Update: The NFL Network reports that Westbrook won't be released until March 5 because of salary-cap purposes but Westbrook has been granted permission to talk to other teams.