So here's the deal: when healthy, LaDainian Tomlinson is arguably the best running back in the league (All Day obviously has a strong case). The problem: sometimes LdT isn't healthy. Like, say, the last two postseasons. Michael Turner and Darren Sproles filled in admirably, which has led to speculation that Tomlinson might've already played his last game for the Chargers.
And today, the San Diego Union-Tribune's Nick Canepa adds his two cents:
I'd wager a short part of what little I own that this great running back, this San Diego icon, has made his last juke and cut as a San Diego Charger. Life without LT? Prepare. ...
LT's fate will be a business decision and help, which the Chargers need in more than one area, will cost money. He makes a lot of it, and it's unlikely he will be asked to take a pay cut.
I'm still not convinced Tomlinson won't be in San Diego next fall, but as I've writtena couple timesbefore, NFL running backs, more than any other position, are easily replaceable. That's not to take anything way from LdT -- when healthy, he does things most guys can't -- just to point out that there are better uses of limited salary-capped dollars, particularly when the "things to fix before August" list is pretty long.
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"A lot of people say I dance around it and avoid the question," says Smith ... "Darren Sproles was drafted by the San Diego Chargers to help us in three areas - kick returns, spot play as a running back and catching passes out of the backfield.
"We will be pursuing Darren for exactly the same reasons."
That sounds about right. Sproles has proven extremely valuable in the three phases Smith mentions, and I'm not sure if he makes the Chargers better by just becoming a running back. Of course, he may feel differently, especially after the two sides start talking numbers.
Whatever happens, there is life after Tomlinson, whether it's '09 or at some point in the future. And like him or not, Smith knows how to put together a roster. The guy unearthed Turner and Sproles; there's no reason to think he can't do it again.
The 'LaDainain Tomlinson Is Done in San Diego' Sentiments Are Picking Up Steam originally appeared on NFL FanHouse on Tue, 13 Jan 2009 14:30:00 EST . Please see our terms for use of feeds.