I know all you Charger fans are cringing, but hear me out for a second.
I keep thinking Sproles is the best investment the Chargers have made this offseason—a better investment than getting CB Strickland and CB Vasher. I'll tell you why.
We tend to dream up all the major possibilities of who will be wearing that Charger blue uniform next season—from players like Ryan Matthews, Ben Tate, Montario Hardesty, and Dexter McCluster, all the way down to players like Joique Bell. I could see all of you salivating at the possibilities all of these players have. There is only one problem: I don't think any of them are going to develop their strongest potential without Sproles.
My reason that keeping Sproles is the biggest offseason investment the Chargers are making is simple: These rookies coming in wouldn't have a veteran RB to learn from and be guided by in the right way if Sproles wasn't there. That's the truth.
Sproles is the only current RB on the Chargers roster with more game experience and preparation. Sproles also knows how to lead by example and what it takes to be an NFL RB.
No rookie that comes in can prove to be more hungry than a man that stands 5'6" to 5'7". That's the truth. Sproles will teach these men that are coming through the draft how to prepare for a game, lead by example off the field, and be a teammate first and foremost, because this is a vertical offensive scheme the Chargers employ. Also, he'll teach them from experience the right way to execute the Chargers offense.
Without Sproles, how can any rookie come in and learn how to do things the right way without the guidance of anyone who knows how to play the position in that vertical offense?
Who are these rookie RBs coming in going to look at as a measure? Jacob Hester? Mike Tolbert? Not even them. If rookie RBs came in and saw Jacob Hester and Mike Tolbert, they'd realize they are closer to being better than them and might handle their early success with too much cockiness.
If any rookie came in with all his intangibles and height and perfect weight as a RB, can he ever measure up to what Sproles did as a short and lightweight RB? No, he never could.
Sproles would be the perfect guy to teach these young players how to play Charger football.
If you look at positions in which rookie players get to learn from a veteran, they have a higher chance at succeeding than those who don't have any mentors.
With the Chargers, Drew Brees is a good example. He learned how to prepare and play the game from Doug Flutie. When Philip Rivers got drafted, he learned the same thing through watching the example of Brees.
Aaron Rodgers stood by and learned from future HOF QB Brett Favre and look how well he did in his first and second years as a starter.
If you want to look at an RB example of passing down game preparation and experience to younger players, look no further than our own L. Tomlinson. He helped mentor Michael Turner and Darren Sproles to be successful and led by example.
Larry Johnson had Priest Holmes to learn from. Matt Cassel had Tom Brady to learn from. Marc Bulger had Kurt Warner to learn from. Steven Jackson had Marshall Faulk to learn from. Adrian Peterson had Chester Taylor to learn from. All these guys had somebody to help them succeed in the NFL amongst many others I didn't mention.
There are players like Kevin Kolb and Charlie Whitehurst who have so much time learning from veteran Pro-Bowl QBs about how to prepare and succeed. I wouldn't be surprised to see these two men make something of themselves.
Players that didn't have anyone to guide them are players like JaMarcus Russel, Alex Smith, David Carr, Ryan Leaf, and Darren McFadden amongst others.
The funny thing about these football players is that they were all drafted in the first round. They had no one to teach them how to get things done the right way. They had no one for them to measure up to to make them realize that they have a long way to go to be successful in the NFL. None of these players had that.
This is why Sproles is the biggest offseason investment for the Chargers this season. I hope you folks look at Sproles in a different way, because when these rookies come in they will be taught how to be RBs in the Chargers offense. Sproles will teach them the right way to play Charger football, how to be a leader and how to follow, how to prepare, and how to push oneself to be better.
I look at that $7 million-plus franchise tag and just think that it's not the player we're getting but the quality of development this player will teach the next group of Chargers RBs about how to get things done the right way. I think that it's worth it giving up that much money.
I don't know any person in the Chargers backfield that is more qualified than Sproles to accomplish this task of teaching and leading. None of these RBs coming in can measure up to the success he's had when everyone doubted him that he couldn't even make it.
When Sproles does talk to them, it would behoove them to listen up, for it's not just Sproles guiding them, it's also L. Tomlinson and Michael Turner. They'll be getting the insight and mental aspect of how all these players play and lead which will most definitely benefit not just the players coming in, but the Chargers organization and fans alike.
Keep it going, Sproles, and I hope you teach these rookies to get it done. I hope all you readers have a different perspective on Sproles. I guess that franchise tag doesn't look all that bad anymore, huh?