LaDainian Tomlinson, the NFL’s eighth leading rusher of all-time, was released by the San Diego Chargers just days ago shocking bewildered Charger fans everywhere
The move was one every one thought was coming after Tomlinson’s production declined over the last few seasons, he also refused to take a pay cut as he had the season before.
A day later the Philadelphia Eagles announced they plan to part ways with two-time Pro Bowl running back Brian Westbrook, hailed as one of the most versatile players in football today.
Now with both running backs slated to hit free agency March 5th would the Saints, or should the Saints, pursue signing either?
Since the decline of running back Deuce McAllister the Saints have not produced a one thousand yard rusher since the 2006 season, which over the last few years equaled a rather anemic rushing attack.
During the Saints Super Bowl run in 2009 they used a three-headed rushing attack consisting of Reggie Bush, Pierre Thomas and Mike Bell to produce the leagues fifth ranked ground game.
Despite this fact they still lacked a true star running back as no one back came close to eclipsing the thousand yard mark.
Enter LT and Westbrook.
LT had what many feel was the greatest season in NFL history for a running back in 2006 when he lead the league in rushing (1,815) and total touchdowns (31), but since has struggled with injury and inconsistency.
Westbrook has been equally as electric as LT but in a different way, rushing for over a thousand yards in 2006 and 2007 but catching 246 passes for 2,053 yards and 15 touchdowns since the 2006 season.
But just like LT a slew of injuries including two different concussions through the 2009 season thwarted Westbrook’s production and ultimately prompted his release from the Eagles.
The question for the Saints becomes if either back can fight off the injury bug long enough to return to a productive state.
Mike Bell, the Saints third running back, is slated to become an unrestricted free agent and if so inclined the team could opt not to bring him back and instead replace him with LT or Westbrook.
Just think of the match up nightmares the tandem of Bush and Westbrook would bring to opposing defenses.
Just think of LT not in the Chargers powder blue but instead clad in the Saints colors of black and gold.
Makes you tremble just thinking about either scenario doesnt it.
Saints quarterback Drew Brees, a former team mate of Tomlinson’s in San Diego, has made no secrets of his desire to see LT suit up for the black and gold.
In fact Brees went on record before the start of last season admitting he had put in a call to Tomlinson to gauge his interest in joining the Saints.
This of course after reports surfaced that Tomlinson may not return to the Chargers, which in fact he did return after agreeing to a pay cut.
Either way both running backs present unique skill sets worthy of notice from any NFL team, not just the Saints, looking to bolster their depth at the position.
Risk versus reward, are the Saints truly ready to take a gamble on aging running backs who’s best years seem to be behind them?
If it helps them get back to the Super Bowl you better beleive it.
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