Fishing with Antonio Cromartie: The San Diego Chargers Way

Ryan CookFeatured ColumnistFebruary 17, 2010

SAN DIEGO - JANUARY 17:  Cornerback Antonio Cromartie #31 of the San Diego Chargers reacts to a play during the AFC Divisional Playoff Game against the New York Jets at Qualcomm Stadium on January 17, 2010 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images)
Robert Laberge/Getty Images

It's a time of much uncertainty in San Diego.  Players are considering other options, with large sums of money are hanging over heads. At least we know who the head coach will be next season!

So with the early exit in the 2009 playoffs now well behind them and the focus shifting to the NFL Draft in April, veteran and more experienced players are beginning to feel the pinch in San Diego. Take defensive back Antonio Cromartie, the four year pro out of Florida State that has made a living racking up big plays for the Chargers, for example. He is now at the crossroads of his tenure with the team, as he faces a possible trade scenario or record-breaking deal.

Much like a fisherman, the San Diego Chargers have baited up their rods, placed Antonio Cromartie into the wide ocean that is the NFL, and are in hope of more than one or two bites for his presence. Instead of bites though, the Chargers are after money, and ultimately are seeking a running back for their new-look style offense, that may or may not include LaDainian Tomlinson next season.

But who would the Chargers be smart to go after?  With the list of possible free agent running backs long, their options are wide open in terms of talent and opportunity. Or is the Draft the smarter way to go?  Maybe a possible Toby Gerhart pick up is the sensible route that the Chargers need to consider.

In all honesty, I really can't predict what the Chargers are going to do. What I do know is that the Chargers need an elite running back to suit their style of offense. Power is not their game, it's never has been.  Speed and agility is and that is why LaDainian Tomlinson perfectly suited the Chargers for so many years. 

As for the potential candidates, I can narrow it down to one name in particular.  Edgerrin James.  For those that missed James during his time in Seattle last season, you didn't miss much. The speed game wasn't there and his usual powerhouse style running game was lacking. Maybe that has to do with the whole of the Seattle offense lacking though, rather than just James' ability.

Rewind to the Arizona days and you would notice a speedy back that had no hesitation entering a hole and coming out the other side. Sound familiar? Of course it does, that's LaDainian Tomlinson to a tee.  Edgerrin, who is entering his eleventh season in professional football, has been around the block more than once. He certainly knows  the ins and outs of the game and has more experience than some of the elite backs in the game today.

The key word there, of course, being experience.  Looking at the Chargers roster, a lot of young and talented players come to mind.  However, the word "experience" is nowhere to be found, at least in the running back position.  Maybe signing James is a decent enough prospect to fill the void.  He'd be cheap and he'd get the job done.

Antonio Cromartie, on the other hand, well he has every right to feel a little bit cheated in terms of his efforts and attitude that he has brought to the table for the Chargers.  Now being used as merely a drawing point to further talent, don't be surprised to see Antonio get shipped off in a months time, to probably a lesser-performing team. Sadly, that's the fate that lies for the defensive back.

Overall though, all is not lost for the San Diego Chargers. After being nearly crucified for their loss to the Jets in the AFC Divisional Game nearly a month ago, the Chargers have already begun the process of rebuilding for 2010, which has been overdue for quite some time.  They may not end up any better with a new running back, but at least they are trying new things.