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Tomlinson Is Talk Of The Town

With Ladanian Tomlinson set to visit the Vikings tomorrow some league insiders have described the odds of the Vikings signing him as “excellent.”

There are some very interesting storylines here, and while the ones I have picked may just be the tip of the iceberg, I figured getting a jump start on the discussion would provide some mid-week fun.

L.T. vs. Chet

The Vikings were not willing to pay enough money to a third down back to keep Chester Taylor on the roster.  Taylor instead went to the Bears and will now face the Vikings twice a year.  From a money standpoint, it is hard to imagine Tomlinson getting too much less money than Taylor did.  This leads me to believe that the Vikings think Tomlinson is worth the money that Taylor was not, and thus they must consider him an upgrade.

Let’s compare some stats from last year.

CHESTER TAYLOR:  Averaged 3.6 yards per carry, scored one rushing touchdown, had 44 receptions for an average of 8.8 yards, had one receiving touchdown, had two fumbles, and ProFootballFocus gave him a pass blocking rating of 0.9.

LADANIAN TOMLINSON:  Averaged 3.3 yards per carry, scored 12 rushing touchdowns, had 20 receptions for an average of 7.7 yards, had two fumbles, and ProFootballFocus gave him a pass blocking rating of -2.7.

It is obvious that Tomlinson would be considered both a short-yardage specialist and a pass catching threat.  Last season was the first time L.T. didn’t notch 50 or more catches in his career, but one could easily justify that by the presence of Darren Sproles instead of diminishing skills.  The most worrisome notion is that the Vikings would be taking a downgrade when it comes to pass blocking, considering this was not a strong suit of the team as a whole in 2009 (other than that little stretch against lesser teams).

Assuming L.T. signs with the Vikings, then one thing L.T. would have over Taylor is his “want to” when it comes to winning a Super Bowl.  Taylor will have taken the money over a chance to win it all, and L.T. will have accepted a secondary role in an effort to win a championship.

INJURIES

Over nine years, Tomlinson has only missed three football games because of injury, which is quite the impressive track record for toughness, as L.T. has played very hard at a position considered one of the hardest to stay healthy at.

None-the-less, Tomlinson missed two of those games last season because of an ankle injury, and one can’t help but be skeptical of his ability to make it through an entire NFL season because of his age and the wear and tear that his body has endured over the last nine seasons.

MONEY

Let’s not forget that football is a business and that at least one of the goals each year for Mr. Wilf is to improve the bottom line.  As one of the most endorsed players of the decade (well, last decade actually) L.T. would bring a certain star power to the franchise that Chester Taylor just didn’t have.

This likely means improved ticket sales, a mad rush for “number 21” jersey’s at your local Foot Locker, and also a fair amount of memorabilia.

While analysts may look at the Vikings signing of L.T. as “great, now you have two guys that used to be the best running back in the league” the Vikings P.R. department would have a blast proclaiming the team as the proud new owners of the “best running duo in the game.”

It wouldn’t be long before plenty of nicknames like, say, the “Texas Tandem” would be printed on t-shirts everywhere.

Normally the bottom line is of no consequence to football fans (other than cap figures) but for those fans that want to see the Vikings remain in Minnesota, every extra dollar generated in the State of Minnesota is another reason to keep them around.

UNCAPPED YEAR REDUCES RISK

Tomlinson likely wants a multi-year contract.  Normally, the Vikings would maybe not have interest in dishing out a multi-year contract to a player of his age because of the risk involved from a financial standpoint.

However, the presence of the uncapped year reduces that risk to a certain extent.  We have seen it with the Bears contracts with Julius Peppers and Chester Taylor among many others handed out to free agents this year.  If teams are willing to front load a contract so that a majority of the money is paid out in 2010, then the cap hit would be less in future years that actually have a cap.  If the player doesn’t work out, then the team can simply cut ties with the player prior to the next Collective bargaining agreement being put into place without seeing their future cap numbers penalized. 

The Vikings could employ the same strategy in 2010.  They can give L.T. a front-heavy contract that allows them to easily escape after this season without hampering their ability to be competitive in future years of free agency.

If there was ever a year to take this risk, this is it.

THE ADRIAN PETERSON FACTOR

Many have talked about how Adrian Peterson will become a better running back by having L.T. as a teammate for a couple of years. 

On one hand this makes sense.  Tomlinson may be able to give Peterson some tips on how to hold onto the football better, how to lengthen his career, and how to continue his growth as a complete back.

On the other hand, one has to wonder if there could be some chemistry issues.

After Jim Brown stated that Adrian Peterson was the best NFL running back at the beginning of the 2009 season, Tomlinson made it known he was quite unimpressed by that notion. 

“I was sitting there reading it thinking, ‘Wow,'” said Tomlinson at the time.  “The difference with me is you can put me out on that field and there will be nothing I can’t do.  I won’t have to come off the field.  Adrian has to come off sometimes on third down.  Running routes, he’s still not there yet.”

It is unknown whether or not Tomlinson has changed his opinion of Peterson after a 2009 season in which Peterson became a noticeably better pass catcher, blocker, and short yardage back.  Either way, one has to wonder if L.T. could exist in an environment where he is not considered the best back in the NFL… let alone the best on his own team.

There is no denying that L.T. possesses a knowledge of the game and the running back position that could improve Adrian Peterson over the long run.  Whether or not Tomlinson has any interest in mentoring the guy that originally stole his throne is another question.

FAVRE MAY BE A FACTOR

Brett Favre has a history of lobbying his current team to sign proven veterans that make plays on offense.

With Childress recently visiting Favre at his home, one has to wonder if the topic of Tomlinson came up at all.  With the Vikings having lost their pass catching running back, the guy who was the first back to catch a hundred passes in a season could very well be an attractive addition to the offense for the forty year old quarterback.

What quarterback wouldn’t love to say they have both Adrian Peterson and Ladanian Tomlinson lining up behind them on game day?

In addition to this being a possible way of “wooing” Favre back to the team for another season, this option could allow the Vikings to get back to their original vision of how to use Favre.  By that I mean, it may be easier to keep Favre on his much discussed “pitch count” with Tomlinson as the number two back instead of a rookie that is unproven and may hit “the wall” come December.


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19 Responses to “Tomlinson Is Talk Of The Town”

  1. TW11 says:

    There’s also the stadium factor.

    I mean, if having Favre, AP and LT all together don’t get us the stadium, nothing else will.

  2. Fragile Freds says:

    This does nothing for Freds. Tomlinson has a big mouth and is a sore loser. With that being said, Freds thinks Favre is a southern fried jackass and that whole thing seemed to turn out fine. So, if we use the Fred factor, this should be done immediatley.

    Fred thinks that the main reason they want a proven guy in stable is because they don’t trust anyone they have currently to be a full timer if AP gets injured. Makes no sense to me if they pay Tomlinson as much as Chester got with Chicago, unless they think Chester’s tank was near empty. Fred would still like to see Al Young get his chance.

    If we are going to bring this guy on, please please please improve our crap ass line!

  3. Purple Charlie says:

    Everything you said about LT, (Except Pass blocking) Makes me lean toward him…

    Adam, Wouldn’t you think LT would be over that Best Nfl RB quote of Jim Brown. Now that he is coming Thursday???

    • Adam Warwas says:

      Tough to say, PC. L.T. is a “proud” dude… maybe he wants a shot at overcoming Peterson on the depth chart, haha.

      I think sitting on the free agent market with no takers for this long has had to humble him to a certain extent.

  4. krugjr says:

    all things considered (including the freds factor) LT does seem to be the best option out there…..plus gives us the better chance to pick a fat man early!!!!!

    GO VIKES!!!!!

    • Adam Warwas says:

      Krug, I apologize for some recent troubles you have had commenting. For some reason you keep getting flagged as spam for some of your comments despite my efforts to assure Word Press that you are indeed not trying to sell us anything. I’ll keep working on it, but I do apologize.

  5. Fragile Freds says:

    Charles –

    I don’t think the Vikes care at all if LT is over Jim Brown’s comments. It’s not like this dude has alot of options. He needs to understand that at this point in his career, he is an old broken down has been (a back up), until he proves otherwise!

    • Purple Charlie says:

      Freds agreed, We know he is… He has to figure that out for himself.

      Adam, I hope it has humbled him some…

      Krug, with ya on the Fat man early!!!

  6. Purple Charlie says:

    And as Quoted, They Have to do something about the O-Line, There was such a difference between the 2008 and 2009 lines as far as run blocking!!!

    As stated before, Sully needs a Big Nasty RG to help him, And he needs to improve himself to help open holes in the middle…

    I believe Hutch will go better this year since he had surgery, Big Phil will have a better year, How much???

    And McKinnie, I hope his big old feet were really bothering him, And Bounces back some, along with his attitude…

  7. krugjr says:

    ok, ok, we’re gettin’ there……LT signs, fat man rd 1, CB rd 2 and piece of clay (Skelton, Canfield) and RB, rds 3 & 4…..

  8. […] Tomlinson Is Talk Of The Town – The Vikings gab takes a look at comparing L.T. to Chester Taylor. […]

  9. […] Tomlinson Is Talk Of The Town – The Vikings gab takes a look at comparing L.T. to Chester Taylor. […]

  10. Fran the Man says:

    Not knowing much about LT, other than being a bit long in the tooth, I was surprised to hear that he is lacking in pass protection.
    I thought one of the main reasons AD was replaced by Chester on 3rd downs was because Chester was the better blocker.
    If LT sucks at blocking and AD is improving in that regard, I would be a little leery of picking LT up.
    OTOH, if the staff feels that our 2 “Rookies”, Young and Johnson, are not up to the task, then maybe LT is not only good insurance if AD goes down but also fills the need of a pass-catching 3rd down back.
    I’m just a little dismayed learning of his lack of pass-blocking skills.

    • Adam Warwas says:

      Don’t freak out too bad Fran, a -2.7 isn’t too bad of a rating over at PFF. L.T. is still a pretty good blocking back.

      Peterson really improved in this aspect last year, as well.

  11. Lost Viking says:

    Normally, I would defer to the knowledge of the coaching staff and Krug on these kinds of decisions. (Spam filter is just warning Krug to cut down on them cuss words).

    The most compelling reasons for signing LDT, however, seem to be non-football ones, ie. money. That’s an awful reason to sign him.

    Although AD and LDT are Texas buds the best contribution LDT could make to the team would be as a ‘replacement’ to AD. AD gets hurt and misses a game we have a replacement back. AD puts a couple of footballs on the ground we can sit him and play a guy with similar style.

    Viking need a back that a) can get two yards on 3rd and two, and b) you can hand off to in the 4th quarter to kill the clock while clinging to a slim lead. That didn’t happen with CT and I doubt it will happen with LDT.

  12. […] course, the flip side of that is one not being addressed.  As I had suggested previously, I suspect Favre may have prompted the Vikings to pursue L.T. by lobbying Brad Childress when he […]

  13. […] course, the flip side of that is one not being addressed.  As I had suggested previously, I suspect Favre may have prompted the Vikings to pursue L.T. by lobbying Brad Childress when he […]

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