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LaDainian Tomlinson: Pursue or No?

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With the news of Thomas Jones' impending release, the team is now in the market for finding a third back. LaDainian Tomlinson's historic tenure in San Diego is over. Some think he might be worth a look. His career with the Chargers, which ended with this year's Playoff loss to the Jets, was extraordinarily productive. He ran for 12,490 yards, had 3,955 receiving yards, and 153 total touchdowns. He was extremely fast and athletic in his prime. Very few defenders could match up with him in the open field. His best year was a 2006 campaign where he averaged 5.2 on the ground and rushed for 26 touchdowns.

Tomlinson has greatly slowed down over the past 2 years. He became a liability to the Chargers this past year in particular, averaging only 3.3 on the ground per carry. He's lost a lot of explosion as 2,880 carries have taken their toll. He caught a career low 20 passes in 2009 as Darren Sproles took on a bigger role.

Could Tomlinson help the Jets in a reduced role? It's possible. Maybe a lesser work load to keep him fresh could increase his productivity. LT certainly has a pathological hatred of the Patriots and Bill Belichick, which doesn't hurt. He was angry over the team "built on class" taunting his Chargers after a bitter home Playoff loss in that 2006 season. The next year, he took a lot of ridiculous criticism for leaving the AFC Championship Game with an injured knee. He had to. A back can't succeed when the base of his explosion isn't working, and the Chargers had a pretty good back named Michael Turner to replace him. People took shots at him for standing on the sidelines with a jacket and his helmet with a visor on. Weird.

That deals with one reason I think the Jets should stay away, though. Tomlinson's athleticism is fading. Backs need it, and it doesn't come back once age intervenes. That's what's happening with the potential Hall of Famer. It's not that hard to find a young and talented third back. Teams constantly find them off the scrap heap. The other issue I would have is LT's past excellence. Would a former MVP have a problem being the number 3 guy? Why risk it when there will be so many other options?

I vote don't pursue.

How do you vote?