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LT's hefty contract weighing heavy on offseason decisions

Discussion in 'Chargers Fan Forum' started by boltmanbz, Jan 14, 2009.

  1. boltmanbz

    boltmanbz Well-Known Member

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    http://www3.signonsandiego.com/stories/2009/jan/13/s14sullivan19053-tim-sullivan/?chargers

    Tuesday, January 13, 2009

    What remains of LaDainian Tomlinson's contract might as well be payable in Monopoly money.

    Pro football players get their guaranteed money up front and are subsequently paid only until management's mood changes. The end, customarily, is abrupt. The sport is about as sentimental as a sledgehammer.

    That LaDainian Tomlinson is the greatest player the Chargers have ever employed is largely irrelevant to A.J. Smith's personnel decisions. LT is a running back whose next birthday is No. 30, whose last season suggested slippage and whose 2009, 2010 and 2011 salaries are a large liability easily eliminated.

    Unlike other major sports, the National Football League negotiates long-term contracts that are more conceptual than concrete. They are designed primarily as a means to amortize signing bonuses for salary-cap calculations, to spread out a team's cap burden for maximum flexibility and minimum obligation.

    "When you read about these $70 and $80 and $100 million dollar deals, they're numbers on a piece of paper," NFL agent Harold Lewis said Tuesday. "When we sign these contracts, we're auditioning for another game. Every game is an audition for the next game or the next year."

    Since Tomlinson represents an $8.8 million cap hit for 2009, and since the Chargers could clear $6.725 million of that by deleting his salary, LT might as well be auditioning for the role of Maria Von Trapp.

    Thus what would have seemed unthinkable less than a year ago now appears almost inevitable: that the Chargers will dump Tomlinson rather than continuing to pay him. Despite all of his accomplishments, and the career records still within his reach, LT is now dogged by the dangerous perception that he has reached the point of diminishing returns.

    In the NFL, the essential musical question is not Janet Jackson's, "What Have You Done For Me Lately?" but Carole King's "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?" The answer, sadly, is usually derived not from accumulated affection, but cold-blooded calculation.

    I would love to be wrong about this. I would love to see Tomlinson finish his career with the Bolts and surpass Emmitt Smith as the NFL's all-time leading rusher. Few athletes have achieved so much and changed so little as has LT. Fewer still have done so without a whiff of scandal or a tendency to speak of themselves in the third person.

    But five years have passed since Smith promised Tomlinson his career "would not be in vain," and the Chargers have more holes now than they have had since at least 2005. There are acute needs on both the offensive and defensive lines, shortages in the secondary and at linebacker, in addition to the desirability of a coherent succession plan at running back.

    When deploying finite dollars, the relative scarcity of raw materials is often the determining factor. Inasmuch as elite left tackles and productive pass rushers are rarer than running backs, Smith's ultimate conclusion may be inescapable.

    Less clear is whether Chargers President Dean Spanos would be willing to sign off on Tomlinson's departure. Much as Spanos defers to his football executives, he still has a stadium to sell. Shoving local icons out the door is not always the best way to make friends and influence people.

    "LaDainian represents everything you want from a player," Spanos said upon Tomlinson's 2004 contract extension. "He is our role model. Every young player should aspire to be like L.T., LT, the way he carries himself on and off the field. He has demonstrated he can do and will do what it takes to be a winner and to be the best."

    Perhaps the statute of limitations has expired on that comment, for the Chargers have done nothing to discourage speculation about Tomlinson's future. Presumably, they've learned to leave clues preceding unpopular moves in order to cushion fans who felt blindsided by the release of Junior Seau.

    It's worth noting, too, that Smith has publicly complained about the injury disclosures emanating from Tomlinson's camp even as he has hewn to basic boilerplate about Vincent Jackson's arrest. Maybe this means nothing, but wouldn't Smith be more likely to shield Tomlinson if he expected to bring him back?

    (Not to suggest that Smith's distaste for LT's agent, Tom Condon, overrules his reason, but it's hard to ignore that the most contentious issues of Smith's tenure have involved Condon clients: Drew Brees, Donnie Edwards, Eli Manning and Marty Schottenheimer.)

    "I think LT still has many great years ahead of him," said Harold Lewis, whose Charger Chargers clients include Tim Dobbins, Clinton Hart and Mike Scifres. "He's too good a player. He just needs a rest. His body's broken down.

    "Everyone plays hurt (in the NFL), but he took it to another level where he played injured. I don't think he's a guy to ever give up on."

    Ever is a long time, especially in the NFL. But if any player deserves a temporary reprieve, it might as well be LaDainian Tomlinson.

    Tim Sullivan: (619) 293-1033; tim.sullivan@uniontrib.com
     
  2. HollywoodLeo

    HollywoodLeo Well-Known Member

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    Whateve you do don't outright cut him.

    That'd be the dumbest thing they can do.
     
  3. AnteaterCharger

    AnteaterCharger Calibrating Bolttalk, Podcast by Podcast Staff Member Super Moderator Podcaster

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    is there even any real rumbling that the Chargers are thinking of doing this or is this just a bunch of puffery? I see no real suggestions from the Chargers that they would do this
     
  4. CoronaDoug

    CoronaDoug Well-Known Member

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    I agree 100% but we won't get all that much for him. Most teams are going toward the RB by committee now and have to pay 2 backs if they are both good. What team right now could use a single set back like LT? Would he mind sharing the load?
     
  5. boltmanbz

    boltmanbz Well-Known Member

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    yah i wish the Chargers would come out and put a stop to it but they havent said anything yet which would make these articles seem pretty real. Anyone know when AJ does his usually offseason press conference??
     
  6. CoronaDoug

    CoronaDoug Well-Known Member

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    When have we ever learned anything from an AJ Smith press conference? :lol:
     
  7. boltmanbz

    boltmanbz Well-Known Member

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    alot when he has his offseason one, he tells us who will but cut
     
  8. JTango32

    JTango32 BoltTalker

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    Shame on tim sullivan for adding to the muckraking like his counterparts canepa and acee. There is no story here and they can try to infer that LT is gone, but LT did not say the Chargers have asked him to be moved, nor did aj smith indicate any different.

    From this article, http://www.pe.com/sports/football/stories/PE_Sports_Local_S_chargers_13.44d58be.html,
    I will take the closing quote from aj smith himself.

    "People think there's going to be a lot of wholesale (changes), people flyin' out of here," General Manager A.J. Smith said in early December. "That's not gonna be the case. There will be changes. ... But the players are coming back, for the most part. And they're going to have an opportunity to turn it around, play better, play more consistent and go from there."
     
  9. nickelbolt

    nickelbolt Fuggedaboutit

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    Exactly. Whatever happens with players... it ain't gonna happen right away.

    Rivera is the most important piece of the puzzle right now. Once we know that he's coming back, they will proceed with player issues.
     
  10. auctoritas

    auctoritas BoltTalker

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    This was written by Tabloid Tim Sullivan, so I would not put too much stock in it.

    Canepa's article was also an opinion piece, with no quotes from within the organization.

    Acee's article is probably the best indication that something is afoot, however he did say on the radio that it was him speculating on which might make sense for the Chargers rather than insider knowledge.

    There may be something to the LT is out of here talk, but to this point I have not heard any comment from the Chargers themselves.
     
  11. HEXEDBOLT

    HEXEDBOLT Don't like it, lump it!!!

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    I would imagine AJ would try to renegotiate the deal first. If LT balks or his agent makes a threat, it might be make the best deal you can.

    I know LT is getting up there in age but I still believe he has what it takes. He just needs to understand that he can't take the pounding he once could. :bolt:
     

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