LaDainian Tomlinson Officially Released by San Diego Chargers

Randy LutzCorrespondent IFebruary 22, 2010

SAN DIEGO - JANUARY 17:  Running back LaDainian Tomlinson #21 of the San Diego Chargers runs with the ball against the New York Jets during the AFC Divisional Playoff Game at Qualcomm Stadium on January 17, 2010 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)
Donald Miralle/Getty Images

Five-time Pro Bowler and San Diego's leading rusher LaDainian Tomlinson has officially been released, as many (including LT himself) have speculated would happen.

LT finishes his career in San Diego as the Chargers' all-time leader in all rushing statistical categories by far.

He's currently eighth in NFL history in rushing yards and second all-time (with only Emmitt Smith ahead of him) in rushing TDs.

This move raises two questions:

1) Where will LT land?

2) Who will be carrying the ball for the Chargers?

As to question No. 1, LT has always had an unbridled passion for the game. He's one of the greatest running backs to step on the field, and he's spent his entire career in San Diego, where he became the face of the franchise. At 30 years old, LT isn't done quite yet—likely far from it.

At the same time, I don't think LT is any longer an every down sort of back, but rather a running back who would be best suited alongside one, if not two other backs.

Another thing that I have to think will influence LT's decision is the ability to compete for a title. For all the great things he's done in his career, he has yet to secure an NFL Super Bowl ring for himself.

I look for LT to go to a Super Bowl contender who could use some help rushing the ball. Off the top of my head I'm thinking Indianapolis, New England, Green Bay, Arizona, or perhaps even back to San Diego (at a lesser price and if his pride can take that hit) as potential landing places for him next season.

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As for the second part, one must imagine that the Chargers will be targeting a running back in this year's draft. Many speculated in last year's draft that they'd select Knowshon Moreno. However, when it came time for them to pick, Moreno was off the board (Denver took him 12th), and they went with Larry English.

This year there are several solid running backs entering the draft, and none are expected to go very high due to the tremendous amount of talent amongst "trench" players in the draft. San Diego could look to C.J. Spiller, Jahvid Best, or any one of the top running backs as an answer.

With a fairly thin free-agent market, especially at the RB position, the draft seems to be the best answer for San Diego's ground game needs.

If they don't decide to grab their running back in the draft, there are a few free agent options out there.

Willie Parker

Parker recently issued comments stating that he'd rather be a starter than a Steeler. San Diego could make that happen.

Pierre Thomas

A RFA this offseason, they'd have to make a decent offer to him to take him from the Saints. Thomas is a young back though (25, I believe) and would make a great feature back on any team. He may even prefer leaving a three-back system to be the feature back on a contending team.

Ronnie Brown

It's a real stretch he'll even be available, as his contract revolves around a potentially uncapped year (if no CBA is agreed upon, a $5 million option for 2010-11 kicks in), so I doubt he's even an option, but with as much talent as he has, you have to mention him.

All things considered, this parting of the ways may not work out best for either side, but we all knew it was coming.