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Tomlinson had been due $24 million over the next three seasons, including $6,725,000 in 2009. His salary cap number would have been $8.8 million in 2009, including a prorated share of the signing bonus from his 2004 contract.
According to Yahoo! Sports correspondent Jason Cole, the new deal will allow Tomlinson to make the $6.725 million he was scheduled to earn this season. That amount was originally in base salary, but has been restructured to be part signing bonus and part salary to help the team create room under the salary cap.
As part of the deal, Tomlinson also reworked the final two years of the contract to help the Chargers. He will reduce his base salaries of $8 million in 2010 and $9.275 million in 2011.
Cole added that Tomlinson will be able to earn the money back in incentives. In addition, some of his contract will be converted to a roster bonus payable in March 2010, forcing the Chargers to have to make an earlier decision on whether to keep him.
But all is well for now.
"This is a good day for the Chargers and for Chargers fans," team president Dean Spanos said. "It was important to me to get this done so LT could continue his career here in San Diego, where he means so much to our team, our fans and our community. The alternative was just unthinkable. He belongs in San Diego."
The 29-year-old Tomlinson is the franchise's all-time leading rusher, gaining 11,760 yards with 126 rushing touchdowns over his nine-year career. He also has 510 receptions for 3,801 yards and 15 scores.
"I love San Diego and being a part of this team with my teammates," Tomlinson said. "My No. 1 priority was to stay here in San Diego. I truly believe this is the place that gives me the best chance to be successful and win a championship. I want to finish the job we started when I got here eight years ago.
"My heart has always been in San Diego. I couldn't imagine putting on another uniform. I really appreciate the role Dean played throughout this process. He made it work for everyone, and I appreciate his friendship more than he knows."
Tomlinson was slowed during the regular season with a toe injury, and then hurt his groin in the season finale. He was forced out of an overtime playoff win against the Indianapolis Colts and sat out against the Steelers, the first game he'd missed due to injury in his brilliant eight-year career.
As Associated Press sports writer Bernie Wilson reminded readers tonight, it was the second straight year his postseason was cut short by injury. That, coupled with the fact Tomlinson turns 30 this summer, raised questions about how long he would be a Charger.
The team said it needed salary cap relief in order to sign other players to contract extensions, and it zeroed in on Tomlinson's deal.
While his 1,110 yards rushing were the lowest of his eight-year career, Tomlinson still finished fourth in the AFC and 10th in the NFL.
The new deal came three weeks after the Chargers put the non-exclusive franchise tag on Darren Sproles, virtually assuring the speedy little running back/returner will be back next season.
If Sproles and the Chargers don't negotiate a long-term deal, he'll make $6.62 million next year. ...
In a related note. ... In an article published this morning, San Diego Union-Tribune beat writer Kevin Acee warned readers the fact that Sproles has not signed his franchise tender could mean he is planning on sitting out the offseason -- or least much of it -- unless he gets that long-term contract.
According to Acee, "This would not be an act of defiance. It would be an act of preservation. ..."
If Sproles were to sign the tender, he is compelled to be at mini-camp and training camp. And, sure, he'd be guaranteed his $6.6 million. But nothing more. So while the Chargers and Sproles' agent discuss a long-term deal, Sproles could well decide against running the risk of injury.