April 16, 2007

Oops! Westbrook was paid bonus twice

The Eagles' $3 million accounting fumble.
By Bob Brookover
Inquirer Staff Writer

Brian Westbrook was overpaid last season.
That's not an opinion. It's a fact.

The Eagles admitted yesterday that an accounting gaffe resulted in the team's paying its star running back a $3 million roster bonus twice. The Eagles have been forced to file a grievance with the NFL against Westbrook because the money has not yet been repaid.

According to a team source, Westbrook and his agent, Fletcher Smith, have acknowledged the mistake and intend to return the money. Smith did not return a phone call yesterday. The matter becomes complicated from an accounting standpoint because of the taxes already paid on the money.

The league, under the collective-bargaining agreement, could hit the Eagles with a cap charge for the mistake. A team source said yesterday that, as of now, the league had not penalized the Eagles for the error. The fear within the Eagles' organization was that another team might challenge the NFL if the league does not penalize the team.

Greg Aiello, vice president of media relations for the league, did not return a call yesterday.

Westbrook, of course, was the focal point of the Eagles' offense last season and probably was worth an extra $3 million after the way he performed when starting quarterback Donovan McNabb suffered a torn knee ligament and was lost for the season.

He finished the year with a career high of 1,217 rushing yards and was sixth in the NFL with 1,916 yards from scrimmage. His 6.0 yards per touch was second best in the league for running backs.

Westbrook, 27, signed a five-year contract extension worth $24.9 million during the 2005 season after contentious moments that included a training-camp holdout before the season. The deal included $9.5 million in bonus money. Westbrook will have a base salary of $2 million in 2007.

No comments: