It's not often that you see a sure-fire, first ballot Hall of Famer unceremoniously released from his team at the age of 30. Yet, that's what happened on Monday when the San Diego Chargers cut RB LaDainian Tomlinson after nine years of tearing up opposing defenses.
The release was clearly something that was going to happen after the way LT's career just decayed in his last few seasons. In his first seven seasons, Tomlinson rushed for at least 1,200 yards, carried the ball at least 313 times, and touched it a minimum of 23.4 times per game. In 2008, he "only" rushed for 1,110 yards on 292 carries, and he averaged almost two fewer touches per game from his career-low at that point.
That year was a trip in comparison to 2009. San Diego only ran Tomlinson 223 times and threw him 20 passes in 14 games. His 3.3 yards per carry was easily a career-low, and his 12 total touchdowns was his fewest since his rookie campaign.
Still, when you look at LT's body of work, it's hard to see why the Chargers would cut him loose. Tomlinson has rushed for 12,490 yards and 138 touchdowns, and he also caught 530 passes for 3,955 yards and 15 more scores. You know how many players have scored 150+ touchdowns in their careers? Two: Jerry Rice and Emmitt Smith.
Pretty good company, eh?
Are you paying attention, Houston Texans?
The Texans have only really had one legitimate running back in their team's history, and the signing of RB Ahman Green never really panned out. The Houston franchise has been around just one fewer year than Tomlinson, and the team's all-time leading rusher is Domanick Williams (aka Domanick Davis).
When you're talking about fans in the Lone Star State, they never forget about their college football. No, Tomlinson wasn't a Longhorn, but he was a TCU Horned Frog and is still an icon in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Remember, we're talking about fan base that booed its own team and cheered when Tennessee's QB Vince Young marched into Reliant Stadium and beat the Texans in his rookie season.
HC Gary Kubiak made no bones about the fact that he hates the running back situation for his team. RB Steve Slaton was benched for his fumbling problem before getting injured at the end of the season. Aside from that, does anyone have confidence in Chris Brown or Arian Foster or any of the other boards with angry faces that Houston is trotting out there behind QB Matt Schaub?
There's a reason that Schaub threw the ball 583 times last season. Houston ranked 30th in the NFL in rush offense.
GM Rick Smith was one of the many that came over from the Denver Broncos when Kubiak was hired in Houston. Everyone on this team is familiar with what LT can do.
This is a match made in heaven. Houston, this is your man.
Don't be surprised if that dark visor and the infamous #21 are playing in Houston when the NFL kicks off in 2010.