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LaDainian Tomlinson: Stay or Go?

Running back is a young man's position. Runners take a pounding during their careers that eventually take a toll. LaDainian Tomlinson is a very good example. At his peak, he was one of the most explosive backs in the history of the league. At age 32, he is no longer the threat he used to be. When kept fresh, he can summon the burst he used to have for a limited time. The hits have clearly piled up, though. He looked great in early 2010 but eventually wore down. In 2011, he looked good in limited spurts but also was banged up for much of the year as the hits now seem to carry more of a punch than they used to.

Tomlinson is set to be a free agent. For what the Jets got out of him the last two years, he was not a horrible signing. He provided a bridge to prepare Shonn Greene and Joe McKnight to take on bigger roles. LT was especially valuable early this year as a pass blocker when the Jets had major protection issues. Greene and McKnight both showed signs of progress in this area, reducing the need to LT to stick around. As they get more experience, they will grow as players. At this point, it seems like any touch Tomlinson gets is taking away one from one of the two more talented runners. McKnight has that extra gear Tomlinson used to have. There were a number of runs LT had where the slight deterioration of his speed due to age gave a defender an extra split second to make a tackle and prevent a monster play. McKnight would have gotten to the spot before the defender and broken a big play.

There is a school of thought that Tomlinson's locker room presence should be kept around a team in need of leadership. I can understand it, but I find it difficult to agree with. Roster spots are limited in the NFL. They should only go to people who are going to help on the field. You can find leaders among guys who still have the ability. Otherwise you end up with Mark Brunell on your roster.

LT's deterioration is only going to continue and become more pronounced as he gets older. I think the Jets need to let the free agent walk away. I vote go. How do you vote?