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LaDainian Tomlinson Cut by Chargers

Feb 22, 2010 – 4:18 PM
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Matt Snyder

Matt Snyder %BloggerTitle%

LaDainian Tomlinson releasedThe San Diego Chargers have now officially done what many knew they would do at some point this offseason: released running back LaDainian Tomlinson, the most decorated football player in team history. Tomlinson was informed by team president Dean Spanos Monday afternoon that he would be let go by the only professional team he's ever known.

In nine seasons for the Chargers, Tomlinson made the Pro Bowl five times and was first-team All-NFL three times, while rushing for 12,490 yards -- good enough for eighth most in NFL history. His 138 rushing touchdowns are second-best all time, while he ranks No. 9 in league history with 16,445 yards from scrimmage.

Tomlinson also won the AP MVP award in 2006 after a season which saw him set an NFL record with 31 total touchdowns and 186 points scored.

In the last two seasons, however, Tomlinson significantly declined -- which isn't too rare for running backs once they get around the age of 30 (which he currently is). His yards per carry went all the way down to a career-low 3.3 in 2009. He did score 12 touchdowns, but he had become little more than a short-yardage back. His 730 yards was almost 400 lower than his previous low (1,110 in 2008), and he was rendered nearly meaningless in the receiving game -- a place where he was once a huge threat.

"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 in a statement. "No matter where he chooses to continue his career, in my mind LT will always be a San Diego Charger. His legacy as one of the greatest running backs the game has ever seen will be as a Charger."

The Chargers do have Darren Sproles to take over in the backfield, but he's a restricted free agent in line for a big raise, so San Diego will have to decide his fate next. Even if the Chargers retain Sproles, his diminutive frame makes it likely that they get him a bigger, complementary back to shoulder the between-the-tackles load. Sproles is more of a big-play threat on outside runs and in the receiving and return games.

Still, this day is all about the departure of Tomlinson. He's a class act who will one day be enshrined in the Hall of Fame and is easily the best player in Chargers history. He'll be looking for work outside San Diego just two years removed from being arguably the best player in the NFL.
Filed under: Sports