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LT's Future, Chargers' Plans At RB Both Uncertain
In case you missed it, LaDainian Tomlinson believes he has played his last game as a San Diego Charger. The veteran running back told San Diego Union-Tribune staffer Kevin Acee on Feb. 4 that he has thought for a while he would be let go by the Chargers.

"I'm not coming back," Tomlinson told Acee. "I don't believe I'll be back in San Diego. I've accepted it."

After more than a month of saying he did not know what would happen, Tomlinson said he has believed for a while he would be let go by the Chargers.

"I've been praying and meditating," he said. "After doing that for a couple weeks, I just felt like it was over."

Tomlinson has two years remaining on his contract, but he is due a $2 million roster bonus March 5 and would be paid $5 million in total salary in 2010. As part of the renegotiated contract he signed last March, he is guaranteed $1 million by the Chargers for next season.

"It's a mixed feeling," said Tomlinson, the league MVP in 2006. "It's mixed emotions. I've spent nine years of my life here, pretty much my youth. I gave the organization everything I have. I enjoyed the community.

"But there is a part I won't miss. The football part is fun. But the business part sucks. I won't miss that."

According to Acee, Tomlinson will be released before March 5 -- on March 4, if general manager A.J. Smith holds true to form, but maybe sooner.

Tomlinson said his agent might call the club to expedite the process.

Indeed, the future Hall of Famer may have been making an effort to expedite the move in the week prior to Super Bowl XLIV, when he spent time on radio row making it clear he "would not take a pay cut under any circumstances" and by making it equally clear he didn't care for the way he was used last season.

"I wasn't happy. No one is going to be happy with the least amount of touches in my career. I don't know any running back that would be happy with that. Absolutely I wasn't happy with not touching the ball as much as I thought I would," Tomlinson, who had 223 carries for 730 yards in 2009, said at one point.

More notably, LT claimed he felt disconnected and questioned the commitment of some teammates.

"I don't know what it is," he said. "We're (at) the point where these guys that come into the league, it's not about the same values no more. It's not about football, the things that you're taught -- faith, family, football. To them, it's not about that no more. It's the name. ... It's 'me.'

"And that's the thing that's so disappointing to me, because I can't deal with that no more. If that's going to be allowed I just can't deal with that type of stuff."

Clearly not the words of a man who expects to be playing with those same guys this year.

When the move is made, it will mark the end of a remarkable run -- a run highlighted by a 2006 season that will go down as one of the greatest seasons ever by an NFL running back.

Tomlinson scored 31 touchdowns, 28 of them rushing, both NFL records. He led the league in rushing with 1,815 yards, and his 2,323 yards from scrimmage were 106 short of Marshall Faulk's then-NFL record.

Tomlinson went on to lead the league again with 1,474 rushing yards in 2007, his seventh straight season over 1,200 yards.

Only Tomlinson and Eric Dickerson began careers with at least 1,200 yards rushing in seven consecutive seasons. Tomlinson is the only player to start a career with at least 10 touchdowns in more than four straight seasons; he did it in nine.

He will leave San Diego having rushed for 12,490 yards, eighth all-time. His 138 rushing touchdowns are second behind Emmitt Smith. His 153 total TDs are third behind Jerry Rice and Smith.

Those totals, however, don't change the fact that Tomlinson's production has declined in each of the last three seasons. And that's something potential employers will examine carefully before bringing Tomlinson on board.

And while ESPN insider Chris Mortensen first suggested Tomlinson might be as good fit for the Texans, long-time Houston Chronicle beat writer John McClain has dismissed that notion, advising readers the Texans aren't interested in a running back that "is on his last legs" like Tomlinson.

"They want a young, hungry back who fits their style," McClain added.

Other teams seem likely to take a similar approach. Indeed, the most likely scenario wherever he lands would have Tomlinson limited to a secondary role at best.

Given that, I'll suggest that as unhappy as he might have been with what he perceived to be a limited role in San Diego's offense last season, he better be prepared for an even smaller piece of whatever offensive pie he's offered this year.

Which begs the question: Will that be okay with Tomlinson?

It doesn't sound like it.

"I feel like I've got a lot of football left," he said during the recent round of interviews. "Physically I feel like I can hold up to the pounding still. Obviously I know I had the least carries in my career, but other than [an] ankle injury early in the year I was pretty healthy all year long. ..."

And the sales job begins. ...

Meanwhile, the next question is what will the Chargers do?

As's Jim Trotter noted this week, backup Darren Sproles is not physically built to be the full-time back for 16 games and journeyman reserve Michael Bennett isn't the answer.

Fullback Mike Tolbert ran the ball quite effectively at times last year, but running effectively at times is a far cry from being capable of doing it on a consistent basis.

I should also note it's not clear all the above-mentioned possibilities are by no means locks to return. That includes Sproles, who can become an unrestricted free agent next month.

Basically, the Chargers can sign Sproles to a new deal, use the franchise tag on his again as they did last year, or let him walk away via free agency.

A league source tells's Mike Florio that the Chargers have given no indication to date as to their plans.

Because the Chargers used the franchise tag on Sproles last year, paying him $6.621 million for one season of football, application of the tag for a second straight year would push his one-year guaranteed salary to $7.94 million.

Florio believes that's way too much for a part-time tailback and an above-average return man.

Sproles rushed for 343 yards in 2009, and he churned up 497 yards receiving. He returned 54 kickoffs for 24.1-yard average and 26 punts for a 7.0-yard average. He generated eight total touchdowns.

Other possibilities?

Bob Matthews of the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle tossed out the following in an article published earlier today: The Bills should trade Marshawn Lynch to San Diego.

Per Matthews, the best running back in the 2010 college draft is C.J. Spiller (Clemson), who will be selected before San Diego's No. 28 overall pick. The Chargers might consider Lynch a better bet than Jahvid Best (California), Jonathan Dwyer (Georgia Tech), Toby Gerhart (Stanford) or any other running back in the draft.

So, Matthews suggests the Bills should try to trade Lynch for San Diego's pick late in the second round. Matthews added: "The Chargers probably would offer a lesser pick and Buffalo probably would take it."

I'm not so sure it's an offer that will appeal to the uber-conservative Smith, however.

While Lynch has the talent to be a heavy-duty NFL running back, his problems with the law and attitude are heavy baggage. And even Matthews points out a primary reason Lynch didn't do much last season was that he never was in top shape after starting the season on the suspended list.

So. ... We now have two more situations to Fantasy owners will want to keep on the radar in coming weeks: Tomlinson's destination and the Chargers' need to replace him.

It's safe to say I'll be watching closely in order to bring you more as developments warrant. Check back.