Shutdown Corner - NFL

There's a whole lot of talent thinking about hanging up their cleats right now. Baltimore Ravens safety Ed Reed says he's "50-50" to come back, Ravens wide receiver Derrick Mason says he's "60-40," and while there's no percentage on Brian Westbrook(notes), some sources in the Philadelphia media have him shoved out the door already.

We'll get to the Eagles in a minute, but obviously, the Ravens would be taking the biggest blow here if both Mason and Reed left. It would leave Mark Clayton(notes) as their number one receiver, with Kelley Washington(notes) and Demetrius Williams(notes) behind him.

I'm no pro scout, but that seems like a unit that would be kinda bad. That's no kind of receiving corps for Joe Flacco(notes) to grow with, unless you want him to grow into Kyle Boller(notes).

Reed, meanwhile, is flat-out irreplaceable. Talk of his potential retirement came out of the blue -- he's only 31 years old -- so I hope it was just emotion getting the better of him in the moment, and that when he backs away from the situation, he'll reconsider. He's a one-of-a-kind player. The Ravens absolutely cannot sustain the loss of Ed Reed(notes) and still remain as good a defense as they are right now. They just can't.

These are some big days coming up for Baltimore if they want to remain a contender in the AFC. They might want to send Ed Reed a nice fruit basket.

The Eagles, meanwhile, are a little better equipped to deal with the loss of Brian Westbrook, should it come to that. Westbrook missed most of this season anyway, and rookie LeSean McCoy(notes) was able to develop in his absence. It's true that Westbrook's contributions as a runner/receiver are an extremely rare commodity in the NFL, but McCoy did catch 40 balls this season. No one's saying he's Westbrook, but at least there's a plan in place.

And even if McCoy couldn't catch, it might not hurt the Eagles to be forced into developing more of a running game anyway.

Playoff losses are hard on everyone, and nothing fuels retirement talk like the disappointing end to a season. My prediction would be that Mason and Westbrook will ride off into the sunset, while Reed sticks around. It looks like some great careers might have just come to an end.

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