As unthinkable as the idea is, it must be debated.
The Chargers will have to discuss, if they haven’t already, whether it’s worth bringing back RB LaDainian Tomlinson with his contract structured the way that it is.
Tomlinson is scheduled to count $8.97 million against San Diego’s salary cap next season. But if they traded or released Tomlinson, the Chargers would free up $6.725 million worth of salary-cap space – quite a bit for a team that would like to re-sign free-agent-to-be RB Darren Sproles and also will try to re-sign its QB, Philip Rivers, to a long-term extension.
Then there’s the matter of Tomlinson’s age. Next season, he will be 30, the age at which numerous running backs have shown signs of decline. Some have excelled at that age, like former Jet Curtis Martin did when he ran for 1,697 yards and scored 12 touchdowns at 31. But some, such as former Seahawk Shaun Alexander, have not.
What should worry the Chargers is this: Tomlinson’s rushing totals have dropped each season since 2006.
Yet if San Diego ever is going to get something in return for Tomlinson, this would be the time. The window closed dramatically after last offseason and will shut even more after this one.
It will be hard for the Chargers to part ways with Tomlinson, and few expect that they will. But it would be irresponsible not to at least discuss whether or not it’s worth doing.