Diner morning news: One more RB on the market

QUOTE: “The language of friendship is not words but meanings.” -- Henry David Thoreau

Goodbye, Brian Westbrook

In the last two days, the NFL has bid adieu to two running backs over 30 -- first LaDainian Tomlinson of the Chargers and yesterday Brian Westbrook of the Eagles. Last season, Westbrook was bothered by two concussions, and his future in the game will be tied to those health issues. He might try and play, but like Tomlinson, his days of being the main back are over. If -- and that’s a big if -- Westbrook can come back and play, he will be viewed as a nickel back, someone who can help a team on third downs. But this role will come with a serious financial reduction from the $7 million salary he was due to make next season.

Westbrook might be able to help some teams in a reduced role, but his market will be reduced, as will Tomlinson’s, based on age and durability. Older running backs will not be the first players to be signed once free agency starts -- in fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if these players are signed until after the draft. Neither one, based on present day evaluations, can convince a team that they would solve a need. I’ve had people email me that the Seahawks would be a good fit for Tomlinson, or now Westbrook, but I doubt the Seahawks are going to want to add an older running back — at least not until they work through the draft.

Trades at the top

On Tuesday, there was a report that the Rams had not talked to the Bucs about a trade, but then there was a report that all four teams at the top of the draft have talked about moving down. I was confused. Rams GM Billy Devaney was emphatic that he has not discussed a trade with the Bucs — yet. The top of the draft is always volatile in terms of teams willing to trade down, but it’s way too early in the process for any team to make a deal. Until the NFL Combine is over — not the just the 40-yard dash but all the testing, the top of the draft can’t be determined. Teams would be talking trade without knowing exactly what they’d be trading.

The Rams and Lions need more than one player, and yes, in theory a trade now would be prudent. But they both need blue-chip players, and passing on a legitimate blue chip would not be prudent for either team. So they need more time and information (medical, psychological, personal) to make a decision.

Moving down in the draft can be a good move when there’s one player who’s coveted by more than one team. Last year, Mark Sanchez clearly had interest from two teams (Jets and ‘Skins), and this allowed the Browns to move. Until we find the one or two players teams covet, then it’s hard to know who’s willing to move up or down. And we won’t know until we collect all the data from the combine.

Panthers QB job is wide open

This news comes as no surprise to anyone, yet the more intriguing story in Carolina centers on coach John Fox as he enters his last season under contract. Fox might be the biggest free agent in 2011 if the league has football and if his team plays well. Those are two very big ifs for a team without a first-round pick and minus one of its best players on defense. This offseason will be interesting for the Panthers since they have to replace their best defensive player; hope their left tackle, Jordan Gross, can recover from his knee injury, as well as linebacker Thomas Davis; find another wide receiver to complement Steve Smith, and have an open competition at quarterback. That’s not an easy to-do list this offseason.

If Fox can pull this together, he’ll win coach of year and will be the free agent of the year in 2011. As Albert Einstein once said, “In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” Fox must find the right answers this offseason to navigate these difficult times.

Have you seen this? From CNN.COM

Dutch speed skating star Sven Kramer was left in tears after confused communication with his coach cost him a gold medal at the Winter Olympics on Tuesday night. The 23-year-old was hot favorite to add the 10,000-meter title to his 5,000m victory earlier in the Vancouver Games, and he completed the grueling circuit in what would have been an Olympic record time. However, his dreams of a double gold crumbled when he was disqualified for an incorrect change of lanes, meaning that the man he was paired with -- Russia's Ivan Skobrev -- won the silver medal and South Korea's Lee Seung-Hoon was promoted to first place.

This is a very sad story. His coach advised him to change lanes as he was racing around the ice. So unfortunate, and you end up feeling bad for both — the player and the coach, who said his life has been ruined.

One more note: Our condolences to the Tatupu family on the passing of former Patriots great Mosi Tatupu, who played 13 seasons. He was 54 years old.

Follow me on Twitter: michaelombardi

Check out the NFP's 2010 Draft Central for in-depth coverage leading up to the draft.

For a look at five memorable moments from Brian Westbrook's career with the Eagles, check out this article from Bleacher Report.

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