After about 24 hours of pressing hands, taking a physical and touring the Vikings’ Winter Park facility, running back LaDainian Tomlinson left without a deal.
According to Jim Trotter of Sports Illustrated, Tomlinson told him he would visit the Jets tomorrow and has more potential visits lined up for next week. Peter King of Sports Illustrated reported that Tomlinson might visit the Philadelphia Eagles and New Orleans Saints after talking with the Jets.
Tomlinson could decide make a decision at any point along the way if he decides that the Jets or Vikings are the best fit for him. In Minnesota, he would be a backup to Adrian Peterson and potentially the main third-down back, a role that was previously held by Chester Taylor, who signed a free-agent deal with the Chicago Bears last week.
"Just spoke to (LT). Says he really liked what he heard from the Vikes, but will visit the Jets tomorrow. Says he hasn't been recruited since high school and wants to see what teams have to say. Has tentative visits elsewhere next week but said he might make up his mind on a team this weekend. Stay tuned," Trotter wrote on his Twitter page. "I'll say this: If the Jets really want Tomlinson they'll have to bring it. Vikes really wowed him. Said he could see himself playing there."
In New York, Tomlinson might have the opportunity to compete with Shonn Greene for the starting job after the Jets released Thomas Jones, who signed with the Kansas City Chiefs this week.
"This could be a process that could continue on and he may want to look at both options," Vikings vice president of player personnel Rick Spielman told KFAN radio after the Vikings met with Tomlinson Wednesday night. "He may want to weigh what's the best situation for him. We'll talk with his agent and see where he's at. Just because a guy comes in on a visit and we don't get something done today it doesn't mean that something won't get done down the road either."
Tomlinson was released by the Chargers in February after signing a three-year contract last March.
He has 12,490 yards rushing, averaging 88.6 yards a game, over his nine-year career in San Diego, to go along with 138 rushing touchdowns. He also made his mark as a receiver out of the backfield, catching 530 passes (an average of 59 per season) for 3,955 yards and 15 touchdowns.
In that time, he has only 19 fumbles while rushing and eight while receiving. Peterson had seven fumbles in the regular season last year and two more in the NFC Championship Game.
But last year was the first time Tomlinson didn’t rush for 1,000 yards. He is one of only three players – joining Barry Sanders and Curtis Martin – that rushed for more than 1,000 yards in each of his first eight seasons in the NFL.
He was also one of the fastest players to 10,000 yards rushing, 11,000 yards rushing and 12,000 yards rushing in a career, registering in the top five in each of those categories. He was also the fifth player in NFL history to rush for more than 10,000 yards and catch 500 career passes, and he became the first player to rush for 1,000 yards and catch 100 passes in the same season when he accomplished that in 2003.
In 2007, Tomlinson was named the NFL’s Most Valuable Player, the first Charger to win that award, and he got 44 of a possible 50 votes. The year before, he set NFL records for rushing touchdowns (28), total touchdowns (31) and points scored (186) – he averaged 11.6 points per game, the second-best in NFL history. He also won the NFL’s Man of the Year in 2006.
Tomlinson was the fifth overall pick in the 2001 NFL Draft after a stellar career at Texas Christian University, where he became the second player in college football history to rush for 2,000 yards in a season and 5,000 yards in a career. He finished with 5,263 yards rushing – 4,008 of those yards coming in his junior and senior seasons. His 2,158 yards as a senior were the fourth-best in NCAA history. He had 406 yards in one game against UTEP, a Division I-A record. He holds school records for 100-yard games (21), all-purpose yards (6,337) and longest run (89t). He was a consensus All-America as a senior and AP second-team as a junior. He was inducted in the Texas Sports Hall of Fame in 2009.
Tim Yotter is the publisher of 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.