Finances were partly responsible for the decision to cut Tomlinson. The Charges would’ve owed him a $2 million bonus had he remained on the roster into March, and the team decided the money could be better spent elsewhere.
Of course, had Tomlinson’s performance been up to snuff, the money would not have been so big an issue. Unfortunately, Tomlinson is coming off the worst year of his career statistically, and another season in which injuries hampered him.
Oft-injured running backs with quickly declining numbers do not stick around long enough to collect bonuses.
Tomlinson now finds himself on the open market, in a year when, barring some unforeseen series of events, teams will be operating without a salary cap, and therefore might be willing to spend some money on depth.
It’s doubtful anyone would think of Tomlinson as a #1-type back at this point, but he could be a solid complementary player on a team that already possesses a workhorse runner.
Provided that team is interested in a faded one-time MVP whose toughness and desire have been questioned throughout his career.
As it happens, the Vikings are one team that could, if things break a certain way, be in the market for a #2 running back.
Chester Taylor is set to become a free agent this off-season too, and could have a lot of suitors, considering his skills and lack of mileage. Should the Vikings lose Taylor, the logic goes, they might see Tomlinson as a nice #2 behind Adrian Peterson.
Some of the problems with Tomlinson have already been outlined above. He’s old. He’s way on the downside. And, even when he was at his peak, there were questions about whether he was gritty and gutty enough to carry a team to the championship.
Obviously, if the Vikings were to sign Tomlinson, they would not be asking him to carry them anywhere. They would only expect him to fill the same role Chester Taylor has the last few seasons – basically, to be a third-down back, a receiver out of the backfield and a fill-in for AD.
Of course, one thing you must take into consideration with any #2 player is, will he be able to step in for the #1 guy should the #1 guy get hurt or otherwise miss time.
To put it plainly: Should Peterson become injured or have to be benched due to fumbling problems, would Tomlinson be a guy you felt a lot of confidence in as the #1 back?
Maybe, for a game or two, Tomlinson could fill in. But considering his injury history, I don’t know that I would feel very safe having him in there.
Chester Taylor, on the other hand, is a guy I have a lot of confidence in. At this point, Taylor is a better player than Tomlinson, and a more reliable player – and, as a bonus, he already knows the offense.
Obviously, if Taylor leaves, you have no choice but to fill that need, and perhaps Tomlinson would fit the mold. But to me Taylor should still be option #1 as the #2 back, with guys like LT as contingency plans only.
In the end, any Viking fan who pines for Tomlinson is probably responding more to his fame than the reality of what he is as a player anymore. Some people love splashy moves. But other people try to take a more practical approach.
I could live with LT, I suppose, if I had to. But I certainly wouldn’t think of him as some potential big-time player who would significantly help Brett Favre and the gang make another run at a championship.
And anyone who thinks LT should move in for AD just because AD coughed the ball up a few times – well, I don’t know what to say about that, except that you need serious psychiatric help.