The greatest Charger ever to carry a football isn't anticipating a return for his 10th season with the Chargers. The future Hall of Famer wants to keep playing, but he knows his time with the only team he has played for is done.
"I'm not coming back," LaDainian Tomlinson said. "I don't believe I'll be back in San Diego. I've accepted it."
Tomlinson is coming off career lows in carries, rushing average per carry and rushing yards; he did miss two games with an ankle injury.
But really, the former focal point of all things Chargers was reduced to a bit role in the team's pass-first approach.
This time last year was the start of an acrimonious offseason between Tomlinson and general manager A.J. Smith. At one point Smith was mocking Tomlinson's hopes of returning and it wasn't until team president Dean Spanos stepped in that Tomlinson was brought back for what looks like his last Chargers season.
Such a drama won't unfold this year with clauses in Tomlinson's reworked contract. He is due a roster bonus of $2 million on March 4 on a deal which will pay him $5 million next season.
That is a lot of lettuce for a back who has lost a step, will be 31 and is lost in a passing attack.
Tomlinson said not only were his on-field contributions diminished, but his role as a team leader was also compromised.
"I didn't feel connected to the team in terms of unity and togetherness," the 2006 NFL MVP said. "That was a problem in the locker room."