By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Sunday, March 7th, 2010 at 6:48 pm in Oakland Raiders.
This is hardly an original thought, but the more you think about it, the more LaDainian Tomlinson continuing his career with the Raiders makes sense.
The downside is obvious. Tomlinson has gained 1,840 yards on 515 carries over the last two years, averaging 3.6 yards per carry. He’s averaged only 3.8 against the Raiders, a team which he has shredded for 2,017 yards and 25 touchdowns (rushing and receiving) in 18 games.
It brings to mind the last days of Roger Craig and Eric Dickerson in 1991-92, with the Raiders handing the ball to a past-his-prime back and getting little in return.
(Marcus Allen watched from the bench, but that’s another story).
Tomlinson also ruled out the Raiders in his tear-streaked press conference after learning of his release from the Chargers.
“The Raiders are pretty set in the backfield,” he said. “Even if they weren’t, I wouldn’t become a Raider.”
As far as being set in the backfield, there has been a vacancy. And if Tomlinson reversed field, he wouldn’t be the first to view Al Davis as a caricature from afar only to be captivated by him in person. Especially if Davis’ name is at the bottom of a check bigger than he’ll get anywhere else.
Other reasons it shouldn’t shock anyone if Tomlinson ended up with the Raiders:
– There isn’t going to be a huge market for Tomlinson and it’s unlikely anyone will make him a lead back. He won’t cost a fortune.
– Davis fondness for “greatness” goes beyond those those who started their careers with the Raiders.
In no particular order, here’s a list of thirty-somethings he’s brought to the Raiders with varying degrees of success in terms of production: Jerry Rice, Rod Woodson, Warren Sapp, Bob Brown, Lyle Alzado, Albert Lewis, Andre Rison, Pat Swilling, Bill Romanowski, Trace Armstrong, Tom Rathman, Ted Washington, Cedrick Hardman and others I’m sure I’ve neglected.
Think of L.T. as another Raider Hall of Famer in the media guide five years after he retires.
In his public appearances over the past few years, it’s been a constant theme with Davis. “We’ve got to score.”
Tomlinson has 23 rushing touchdowns in his past two “down” years, plus another receiving. The recently departed Justin Fargas has 10 touchdowns in his entire career.
Steve Baker, the agent for Fargas, said via e-mail Saturday night his client was healthy enough to play. Fargas himself told the San Francisco Chronicle today he was lining up visits, with Kansas City being a possible destination. Nor did he rule out the 49ers.
Fargas wasn’t cut because he was hurt. If he scored 10 touchdowns a year, rather than 10 in his career, he would have collected his $1.7 million bonus as well as his $755,000 salary in 2010.
– Davis doesn’t believe in chemistry, so he’s not going to worry if Tomlinson pouts about lack of use with Darren McFadden and Michael Bush still around.
As for how the rotation will work, that job belongs to Hue Jackson and Tom Cable.
– Tomlinson has never been disparaging of the Raiders in public. He’s always downplayed the notion of his success against the Raiders, and reminded Bay Area writers on his yearly conference call about how the Raiders got the better of him his first few years in the league.
– Regardless of what Tomlinson said upon being released, who doesn’t think there is some appeal to being in silver and black to help the Raiders end a 13-game losing streak to the Chargers which began in 2003?
– I threw out a net on this rumor today and got nothing in the form of a positive response. Nor did I get anything from anyone on background saying, “No chance. It won’t happen, etc. . . .”
Which means it’s nothing but a topic of discussion at this point.
Given the way Davis has operated in the past, one worth debate.