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Wednesday, November 27
Westbrook: 'I don't know if I'll play again'

By Len Pasquarelli

More than a month after Michael Westbrook requested his release because of diminished playing time, the Cincinnati Bengals finally obliged, waiving the eight-year pro Wednesday evening and possibly ending his NFL career.

The release of Westbrook, 30, abruptly ended the brief tenure of a player Bengals coaches had hoped would provide them a deep threat in 2002 and also serve as a mentor to their younger players at the position. Westbook participated in just 13 snaps during last Sunday's loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

"It's a combination of them giving up on me and my heart not being in it," Westbrook told the team's Web site. "I don't know if I'll play again. I'm just going to go home and play with the kids and laugh about the situation."

A former first-round choice of the Washington Redskins (1995), Westbrook signed a three-year, $3.5 million contract with Cincinnati as an unrestricted free agent late this summer. He will keep the $350,000 signing bonus and, since he is a "vested" veteran, his $700,000 base salary is guaranteed.

The Bengals were scheduled to pay Westbrook base salaries of $1.1 million each in 2003 and 2004, and those amounts will be rebated into their salary caps for those seasons.

Westbrook broke his wrist in training camp, did not play in the preseason, and got off to a slow start, in part because of the injury. But the veteran also fell behind several younger players on the depth chart and he quickly grew disenchanted with his role.

He appeared in nine games for the Bengals, started four of them, and had just eight catches for 94 yards and two touchdowns. For his career, he has appeared in 89 games and started 72 times. The former Colorado standout has 285 catches for 4,374 yards and 26 touchdowns.

The Bengals will replace Westbrook on the roster with rookie offensive tackle Reggie Coleman, who was suspended last week for punching a teammate.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior writer for ESPN.com.

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