News & Info/Headlines
Tomlinson owns or shares 28 team records, including career rushing yards, yards from scrimmage and touchdowns. During his nine seasons in San Diego, Tomlinson won two rushing titles (2006 and '07), set an NFL single-season record for touchdowns in a season (31 in '06) and racked up 12,490 rushing yards, the eighth-highest total in NFL history.
He was the NFL's Most Valuable Player in 2006 and earned Pro Bowl honors five times.
According to Chargers.com staffer Casey Pearce, Chargers president Dean Spanos met with Tomlinson Monday and informed his superstar running back that he is being released.
"This is a part of the business that I hate, and it's particularly hard when you're dealing with someone I consider a friend," Spanos said. "Change involving great players is never easy. I respect LT as much or more than any player I've ever known. And no one appreciates his contributions to this organization more than I do.
"That is why this is such a difficult announcement for me to make. ..."
Apparently not as difficult as playing an aging running back whose output has declined for three straight seasons the $5 million he's due this year.
Specifically, Tomlinson was due a $2 million roster bonus next month. He was also was scheduled to make a $3 million base salary in 2010.
But the move wasn't free; according to ESPN insider Chris Mortensen, Tomlinson's contract stipulated a $1 million bonus if the Chargers cut him.
Still, the move comes as no surprise.
"It was a longtime coming, but I knew it was coming," Tomlinson told SI.com staffer Jim Trotter upon learning the news. "Now that it's official I can kind of look to the next step in my career and playing football for someone else."
It will be quite an adjustment.
Tomlinson joined the Chargers in 2001 as the fifth overall selection in the NFL Draft. The Chargers originally held the top pick in the draft, but swung a trade with the Atlanta Falcons, who moved up to take quarterback Michael Vick.
The Chargers waited as Tomlinson fell to the fifth spot where they enthusiastically brought him into their fold.
"There were a lot of eyebrows raised when we made that trade, but LT proved to be everything we thought he'd be and more," Chargers general manager A.J. Smith said. "He's a future Hall of Famer.
"My only regret is that he leaves San Diego without a Super Bowl ring."
Depending on where he winds up, Smith might ultimately regret the fact Tomlinson plans to continue playing.
LT has made no secret of belief he can still be an effective running back; it remains to be seen if that's truly the case. It's also not clear where he might ply his trade going forward.
According to ESPN.com's Bill Williamson, some league observers believe Tomlinson may have to wait a while to garner interest. Per Williamson the list of potential suitors could include Baltimore, Denver, Green Bay, Houston, Kansas City, New Orleans and Washington.
For the record. ... The Ravens are said to be just fine with Willis McGahee continuing to back Ray Rice; Houston Chronicle staffer John McClain doesn't believe the Texans are interested enough to sign a back of Tomlinson's advanced years; the Saints are pretty much loaded at the position; and the Redskins owe Clinton Portis an awful lot of money whether he plays there or not.
That leaves the Packers, Broncos and Chiefs.
The Packers do have some issues with escalators that will increase Ryan Grant's salary to uncomfortable levels going forward -- a situation that is certainly worth watching.
But the Broncos and Chiefs would provide Tomlinson something he might be most interested in: Two chances to make the Chargers look silly every year can remain on their roster.
I'll go ahead and remind you that Tomlinson is still effective at the goal line -- and Denver struggled in short yardage last season. In Kansas City, Jamal Charles is clearly an emerging talent but as Kansas City Star staffer Adam Teicher suggested last week, even he becomes the player of Kansas City's dreams, Charles is going to need some help.
At 200 pounds, there is considerable (and not unreasonable) concern about his ability to handle 20-plus touches for 16 games.
It might also be noting at this point that Kansas City has fared well with a similar move in the past.
Remember, the Chiefs brought former Raider Marcus Allen on board after Oakland owner Al Davis soured on the then 11-year veteran. All Allen did was score 47 touchdowns for the Chiefs before calling it a career after the 1997 season.
I'm not saying. ... I'm just saying.
There is, however, another consideration.
Though he named no teams, Tomlinson told Trotter that his primary goal "is to try to win a championship."
"That's my No. 1 goal," he explained. "That's why I still work hard and train like I do, because I still believe there's a chance of winning a championship. I can think of a few teams off the top of my head, but that's what my agent is for."
The only factor Tomlinson articulated is the presence of a "proven quarterback."
Trotter points to the Eagles and Patriots as teams that could use help at the position.
So stay tuned. I'll continue to keep an eye on Tomlinson's prospects -- as well as the Chargers' possible plans in the post-LT era -- in coming weeks.