The return of Ladainian Tomlinson to the San Diego Chargers is not looking good. L.T. got hurt again this year and missed the team’s divisional playoff at Pittsburgh, while backup Darren Sproles continued to prove that he’s one nasty back. The Chargers don’t want to make the same mistake they made by retaining L.T. and letting Michael Turner go, so now the trade rumors are flying.

“I think it’s ridiculous to be talking about trade and me not being here, that’s just my personal opinion” Tomlinson told Jim Trotter of “I know every team has a right to make trades and all this stuff, but I just think it’s ridiculous to be talking about this, to have this stuff in the media when this could be handled behind closed doors and in a professional way. Now I have people calling me, talking about this all the time; this has become a big story and I don’t want this.”

Tomlinson is set to make $6.275 million next year and $24 million over the next three years. For an aging tailback that has been run into the ground since his rookie year in 2001? Yeah, I don’t think so. And it doesn’t seem that General Manager A.J. Smith thinks so either.

“L.T. will be discussed in great length on a number of issues by this organization based on [the three years he has remaining on his contract]” G.M. A.J. Smith told SI. “Now that may be shocking to you or it may be shocking to L.T. or anyone else out there, and if it is I don’t know what to tell you; but as the general manager of the football team, the recommendations I’m going to make to Dean Spanos, like I’ve done all these years, I think it’s valid to discuss a football player like L.T. and [what has happened] the last couple of years, looking ahead to a contract that has three years remaining on it.”

That doesn’t sound good.

“All of that may be stunning to people, but as the GM here — where I told you I would pass his name a few years ago — it will be discussed heavily,” he continued. “I think it’s valid; I don’t think it’s ridiculous. I think it’s important at this point in time, as unreasonable as that may sound to many people or to you, I think it’s a sound football decision.”

That sounds less good. He’s hardly speaking like a guy who can’t wait to have L.T. return to the fold.

But, what do the Chargers plan to do, cut him? It’s possible. Given the money that he is set to earn, who would give up anything worth a damn in a trade? He’s been plagued by injuries the past two years and when it’s a running backs time, it’s his time. It goes pretty quickly.

However, according to several GM’s, who spoke to SI on condition of anonymity, there would actually be some market for him, although none could imagine giving up a first-day pick.

“You could see from those final two games that he played in when he was healthy that he still has juice,” said one GM. “But running backs who have had as many touches as him tend to drop off quickly after 30, and he’s had problems with injuries.”

Regardless, it seems like L.T.’s time in San Diego is over.

About The Author

Micah Warren is a sports writer from New York and the founder of Blast's sports section and the Off the Record sports blog.

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