Free-agent scouting report: Jets RB LaDainian Tomlinson

Posted March 08, 2012 @ 5:19 p.m.
Posted By PFW staff

This is the 40th in a series of scouting reports on key players who are expected to become free agents March 13, unless they are re-signed or franchised before then.

News: Retirement is certainly a possibility for Tomlinson, who will be 33 in June. Early in January, Tomlinson told a San Diego radio station that he was "contemplating retirement." Whether or not he chooses to retire, all signs point to L.T.'s time in New York being over. On an episode of Showtime's "Inside the NFL" that aired in January, Tomlinson criticized QB Mark Sanchez and the entire atmosphere in the locker room. "They (the Jets' organization) created this. This is the type of football team that they wanted," Tomlinson said. "Mike Tannenbaum (and) Rex Ryan are both brash, in-your-face type of style, say whatever you want, just get it done on the field. And then it leads to other things (like) guys are calling each other out and saying, 'I'm not getting the ball' or whatever it may be." Owner Woody Johhnson said during Super Bowl week that the team "won't hold (Tomlinson) accountable for that," according to the New York Post. L.T. is coming off the least productive season of his career — by a lot.

Notes: Tomlinson rushed for 280 yards on 75 carries in 14 games last season as the Jets' third-down back. He had 42 catches for 449 yards and two receiving scores — his most productive year as a receiver since 2007. One of the greatest backs of all-time, Tomlinson began his career with eight consecutive seasons rushing for more than 1,100 yards. He has 13,684 career rushing yards and 145 career rushing scores. He also has 4,772 career receiving yards.

Positives: Tomlinson's snap count plummeted last season, but he was still very effective as a receiving back on third down, with a career-best 10.7 yards per catch. He can offer a team a veteran presence and can be a mentor to younger backs. He doesn't have the breakaway speed or the toughness to fight through tackles, but Tomlinson still is a reliable pass catcher with great vision.

Negatives: Last year proved that Tomlinson is nearing, if he's not already at, the end of his storied career. His comments make it extremely unlikely the Jets would consider re-signing him, and some teams might avoid adding someone who made such comments. There does not appear to be very much left in his tank.

Risk factor: Moderate. If you are bringing Tomlinson in for the veteran minimum to be a No. 3 back, then there is little risk. Expecting L.T. to be an effective third-down back who can help rally a locker room may be a stretch. He is on his last legs, and if he chooses to return for one more season, it's questionable how much he can provide on the field.