LaDainian Tomlinson isn’t ready to retire yet, although he is realistic enough to know that it might not be up to him.
Tomlinson said on NFL Network Thursday that he would like to play in the 2012 season, but he’s not sure whether any team will be interested in the services of a running back who turns 33 in June and gained just 280 yards last year.
“I’m not sure, but I do want to continue to play,” Tomlinson said. “I love the game, no question, but I have to wait on the opportunity. The ball’s in the teams’ court. I’m just here waiting to see what happens. I’ll have a conversation with my agent, Tom Condon, in the next week or so, trying to get an idea of what teams think about me.”
So what can Tomlinson provide to a team that signs him to a free-agent contract? Leadership is the obvious answer, given that Tomlinson is one of the most respected players in the NFL, but Tomlinson doesn’t want people to overlook what he can bring on the field.
“I think the leadership in the locker room, on the field, being able to really help the younger guys out,” Tomlinson said. “I still think I have something to bring in that respect, but also on the field: I think I’m still a viable option out of the backfield, especially in sub packages. I think I do really well in running routes and creating mismatches.”
Tomlinson caught 42 passes for 449 yards and averaged a career-high 10.7 yards a catch last season, so he may be right when he says he still has something left as a receiver. There aren’t many 33-year-old running backs in the NFL, but if Tomlinson is motivated to keep playing, there’s probably some team that could use him.