In analyzing Packers running backs this season, many followers of the Packers have come to the consensus that it was one of the team's positions of need. One thing you will see from looking at those links is there was no consensus about who should be added to the unit or where that player should come from, whether in the draft or free agency.
Brian Westbrook was not even under consideration, because as one of the game's elite backs over the past five seasons, the prevailing thought was his cost would be too high for the notoriously frugal (cough*cheap*cough) Ted Thompson. However, ESPN reported on Tuesday's NFL Live that the Packers are talking with Westbrook.
Apparently, it is becoming a buyer's market in free agency despite the uncapped year because the draft is so close at hand. It is a move that makes sense for both parties.
For Westbrook, he has a chance to play in a familiar system with a contender. He also will probably see more touches than other backups, as Green Bay moves from too much reliance on Ryan Grant.
Over at PackerChatters, readers can see an examination of reasons the move makes sense for the Packers. But a further examination of the health concerns that make Westbrook still available and have driven down his price is prudent.
Wes is coming off his first season in which he missed more than four games, playing in just eight and starting seven in 2009. Because his concussion history, there is more speculation that Westbrook can no longer start than for similarly productive, 30-plus-year-old backs LaDainian Tomlinson and Thomas Jones.
This speculation has not only given him fewer options to be a starter, but consequently a lower price tag. If signed, he provides a potent backup more likely to stay healthy, and he will be counted on less, making any injury less critical.
Nonetheless, were he pressed into action, he would be a clear upgrade over Brandon Jackson. With more glaring needs, taking anyone in the first round would be irresponsible, so he would also help the team more than any alternative the team would get later in the draft.
A few facts about Westbrook:
- He has never gained less than four yards per carry or averaged less than seven yards per reception in a season.
- In no season in which he touched the ball at least 160 times has he failed to produce 1,200 yards and seven scores.
- He has averaged over 100 total yards and 0.75 TDs per game since becoming a full-time starter in 2004, while only losing five fumbles in those six years combined.