Chargers release icon LaDainian Tomlinson

After spending nine years in San Diego, LaDainian Tomlinson’s Charger career has officially come to an end, as the team released the 30-year-old running back on Monday.

Tomlinson ends his San Diego career after amassing 12,490 rushing yards and 138 rushing touchdowns on 2,880 attempts. Outside of 2009, he never finished with less than 1,110 rushing yards during a season and never totaled less than 10 rushing touchdowns. His best season came in 2006 when he rushed for 1,815 yards and a NFL-record 28 touchdowns, which he still holds today.

While it’s a sad ending to such a fine tenure, Tomlinson didn’t make things easy by ripping the franchise for his lack of carries last year and his criticism of head coach Norv Turner’s pass-first approach. Tomlinson also refused to take a pay cut to stay in San Diego, so nobody can blame the Bolts for saving $5 million ($3 million in salary, $2 million in bonuses) by dumping him now.

Some fans like to blame the Chargers’ offensive line for Tomlinson’s declining numbers over the past two seasons. But while the left side of Marcus McNeill and Kris Dielman left something to be desired in the run blocking department last year, the right side of Jeromey Clary, Louis Vasquez and center Scott Mruczkowski was more than serviceable in opening up running lanes. The fact is that Tomlinson’s skills have just deteriorated after toting the rock so many times throughout his career.

Tomlinson will land with somebody next year. Chances are he’ll have to take a one or two-year deal, but given his experience and exceptional vision, he’ll land on his feet again.

It just won’t be in San Diego, where it was clearly time for both player and team to move on.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

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