LaDainian Tomlinson must be growing used to his football career being left for dead. That was the common opinion when he was cut by the Chargers a year ago, and it was widely assumed that he’d pack it in this year if the Jets chose to move on, cutting ties with their aging veteran and allowing Shonn Greene to fully take the reins.
Tomlinson hinted strongly that if the Jets decided the $2.4 million he was scheduled to make next year was too much to pay for a 31-year-old running back he’d probably retire. Now that appears to be a decision he won’t have to make.
The Jets will reportedly bring Tomlinson back next season, according to the New York Daily News. He’ll likely play a reduced role, with the organization looking for Greene to mature and develop. Tomlinson entered Week 1 this past season in a clearly defined backup role after Greene earned the right to be the featured back with his performance in the 2009 playoffs. All it took was two fumbles from Greene in the opening quarter of the Jets’ season for him to earn a seat on the bench, and eventually a time share.
During his final three years in San Diego, Tomlinson’s rushing output fell by 744 yards. His renaissance early in 2010 was encouraging, but it was also short-lived. Of his team-leading 914 yards, nearly half of them (435 yards) came in the first five weeks. While still staying productive as a pass-catching option out of the backfield and finishing with 368 receiving yards, five of Tomlinson’s six rushing touchdowns came in New York’s first six games.
Tomlinson has said he wouldn’t mind accepting a reduced role. His peaks and valleys are a common symptom of being a running back on the wrong side of 30, so he likely won’t have a choice.