LaDainian Tomlinson (Ronald Martinez/Getty)
On a few levels, the Vikings signing LaDainian Tomlinson makes sense. However, it seems more likely to be idle-time speculation than a reality since it would require Tomlinson to take a back seat to a player he thought he was better than just a year ago.
A year ago, the biggest question among NFL talking heads was who was the better running back – LaDainian Tomlinson or Adrian Peterson? At the time, Tomlinson was still viewed as the gold standard, but he was turning 30 – a doomsday clock for running backs – and Peterson was already being mentioned in the same breath with him only two years into the league.
A year later, the chatter has switched to the potential of Peterson and Tomlinson being teammates.
While it seems like a remote possibility, the rumor mills have started almost immediately that the Vikings would be an ideal candidate for L.T., who was released just hours earlier by the Chargers. There are a couple of reasons for that, not the least of which being that Tomlinson would be available to the Vikings whereas most other free-agent options won’t be.
Tomlinson told Sports Illustrated that he has still wants to play, but wants to play for a team that can legitimately contend for a Super Bowl championship and a team that has a strong quarterback situation. If Brett Favre returns, the Vikings would fit that bill on both counts.
The Vikings are hamstrung by the uncapped 2010 season coming up in that they can’t sign any unrestricted free agents until they lose one of their own and, even then, the salaries they can offer will be limited depending on how much their own free-agent crop received with another team. However, there is a loophole in the restrictions that says a player who has been released from his team isn’t subject to the same rules as those who are simply unrestricted free agents. Translation? Teams like the Vikings, Saints, Colts and Jets could sign Tomlinson without the restrictions that they would have if, for example, the Colts wanted to sign Chester Taylor.
At this point, you can only chalk it up to wild speculation. There is no telling whether Tomlinson – who bristled just last summer when Hall of Famer Jim Brown said Peterson was the complete package and L.T. was more limited in his overall game – would be willing to serve as a backup to A.D. In other examples of top backs being shunted away by their former teams (Emmitt Smith, Edgerrin James, Jamal Lewis, etc.), those guys all went to new locations expecting to be the primary running back in the offense. L.T. wouldn’t be that in Minnesota.
There is also that pesky idea that Tomlinson would have to be settle for backup money and the Vikings would have to reverse their general principle about signing up-and-coming players in the free-agent market. The team eschewed that ideal with Favre, but they might not be as willing at a position where wear and tear takes a bigger toll.
If nothing else, it makes for good chatter, as well as reason to try to convince Favre to come back. Not only would he have the luxury of handing the ball off early and often to Peterson, both he and Tomlinson could be an embarrassment of riches. And, perhaps more importantly, it is something that would fit in the Vikings’ current bystander status in the upcoming free-agent period.
It isn’t exactly time for Asher Allen to start wondering how much he can make by selling his No. 21 to L.T., but it makes for good copy as we await the start of free agency and players changing teams.
Last weekend, we discussed how teams have been hesitant to use the franchise tag, because, in so many instances, the cost is so high that it hardly makes sense to do so it at many positions. However, the Patriots were the first to jump, putting the franchise designation on nose tackle Vince Wilfork.
In a flip-side move, the New Orleans Saints, according to ESPN, won’t put the franchise tag on Darren Sharper, despite safety being one of the more affordable franchise-salary averages.
In a rarity in professional sports, the St. Louis Rams announced Monday that they are reducing the price of tickets on two-thirds of their seats in the Edward Jones Dome. The Rams are 6-42 over the last three years and hit bottom at 1-15 last year. They will have the first pick in April’s draft.
The Bears signed former Viking Richard Angulo Monday. Angulo has spent more time with Mike Tice than longtime assistant Richard Solomon spent with Denny Green (or at least it seems that way). The Bears will be the third team in which Angulo and Tice have been tied together. Tice coached Angulo with the Vikings and, after being fired, Angulo joined the Jaguars when Tice was hired on as line coach. Angulo was out of football in 2009.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.