UPDATED: with Reid press conference

The Eagles have released running back Brian Westbrook.

The move does not come as a surprise. Westbrook was owed a salary of $7.25 million next season.

Westbrook's agent, Todd France, could not be reached for comment.

Reaction is coming in quickly. In a text message, former Eagle Brian Dawkins said Westbrook is "truly everything you want in a teammate and friend. He's a one of a kind player for the Eagles. An all-time great!!! A leader on and off the field."

During a news conference, coach Andy Reid called it a "tough day for the Philadelphia Eagles" and "not an easy thing to do, for us or for Brian."

Reid said he told Westbrook the team was "going in a different direction."

The timing of the release was to "allow Brian an opportunity to hook on with another football team, if he chooses to do that."

Reid said Westbrook did not give him any indication as to whether he intends to keep playing, but "I think he might like to do that."

Reid also declined to say whether Westbrook was given opp to rework deal, and stay with the team at a lower salary.

The team also issued statements from Reid, owner Jeffrey Lurie and team president Joe Banner:

Reid: "Brian is one of the greatest Eagles of all time and he is even a better person and leader. In my mind, there has not been a more versatile running back that the NFL has seen. I had a conversation with Brian this morning to let him know. This is by far the most difficult part of this job. We wanted to make this move now in order to maximize Brian's chances of landing with another NFL team."

Lurie: "Brian Westbrook is one of the most electric players in the history of this franchise and is certainly also one of the most popular. He was personally one of the my favorite players to watch each and every Sunday and his playmaking abilities, leadership and values will be missed."

Banner: "We all know how valuable Brian was as a member of the Philadelphia Eagles and he will certainly go down as one of the greatest Eagles of all time. But what really showed me how special a person Brian is, was watching the way he interacted with my children. That said more to me about Brian than anything else he could have done on the playing field. We will miss him both as a person and as a player."

He missed eight games last season, suffered two concussions and posted his lowest totals since his rookie year.

Despite reports that he was considering retirement, Westbrook has indicated that he wants to continue playing. How much interest there will be in him is a question.

Westbrook suffered a concussion Oct. 26 against Washington when his head collided with London Fletcher's knee. He lost consciousness on the field before eventually getting up and walking off. He sat out three games and returned against San Diego, but suffered a second concussion. He was sidelined until the final two games of the regular season and then touched the ball just once - a 27-yard screen pass - in the playoff loss to Dallas.

Westbrook was drafted out of Villanova and played eight seasons with the Eagles. He gained 5,995 yards on 1,308 carries (4.6 average). He scored 37 touchdowns rushing. He caught 426 passes for 3,790 yards and 29 touchdowns receiving.

Westbrook is second all-time in Eagles history in rushing behind Wilbert Montgomery (6,538 yards). He also owns two of the top single rushing seasons in team history with 1,333 yards in 2007 (fourth) and 1,217 in 2006 (eighth).

He is third in rushing touchdowns with 37, behind Steve Van Buren (69) and Montgomery (45) and third in attempts behind Montgomery (1,465) and Van Buren (1,320).

More to come ...