A few weeks ago, before the Chargers were eliminated from the playoffs but after Darren Sproles had proven he was a viable candidate to succeed LaDainian Tomlinson as San Diego's feature back, we wrote that the Chargers needed to make a decision one way or the other -- either stick with Tomlinson and let Sproles go to free agency, or re-sign Sproles and entertaing offers for Tomlinson. It sounded a little crazy then, even to us; could the Chargers really have the stones to trade their Hall of Fame running back? Really?
Apparently, that notion wasn't so crazy. Tomlinson has yet to receive assurance from the Chargers that he'll be around next year, and he's venting to anyone who'll listen:
"I think it's ridiculous to be talking about trade and me not being here, that's just my personal opinion. I know every team has a right to make trades and all this stuff, but I just think it's ridiculous to be talking about this, to have this stuff in the media when this could be handled behind closed doors and in a professional way. Now I have people calling me, talking about this all the time; this has become a big story and I don't want this."
We feel bad for Tomlinson here, because he's right: Professionally, this could be handled behind closed doors. But now that it's out there, it's worth discussing, and unfortunately for LT, the notion of trading him isn't as ridiculous as it sounds.
It's cold and dispassionate, to be sure. Looking at the facts, though, Tomlinson has more touches on the ball than anyone his age since Eric Dickerson. He's been injured through 2008, including an injury that kept him out of the playoffs. He's turned the corner in age, the corner where running backs start to decline rapidly. And the Chargers have a ready-made replacement, someone who has proven he can do the same things -- catching passes out of the backfield, running off tackle -- that have made LT great.
This sucks for Tomlinson, sure. But the NFL is a business. If the Chargers traded their Hall of Fame running back, it wouldn't be the worst business decision ever.