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Tomlinson: Mathews’ best leverage will be his play

Ryan Mathews AP

For the record, Chargers tailback Ryan Mathews enters the final year of his contract in 2014. And for the record, he’s never given any indication that he would consider holding out in hope of a new deal.

In an interview with Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union-Tribune for a story published Saturday, former Chargers tailback LaDainian Tomlinson said Mathews’ best bargaining chip for his second pro contract will be doing his job.

“My advice to Ryan would be just to ball out like he did this past season, and everything will take care of itself,” Tomlinson, now an NFL Network analyst, told the Union-Tribune. “You go to everything in the offseason. You prove your worth to the team by being there, not by being absent.”

The 26-year-old Mathews rushed for a career-high 1,255 yards in 2013. He played all 16 regular-season games for the first time in his pro career, though he was limited with an ankle injury in the postseason.

Gehlken’s piece does well to consider the matter of a veteran running back’s leverage in a time where NFL teams seem less and less willing to devote significant financial resources to the position. While Mathews has one year left until free agency, Oakland’s Darren McFadden, Jacksonville’s Maurice Jones-Drew and Houston’s Ben Tate will be among the backs who can test the market this March.

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15 Responses to “Tomlinson: Mathews’ best leverage will be his play”
  1. thevikesarebest says: Feb 15, 2014 9:49 PM

    The vikings are superior to most franchises.our RB is superior to all.our dynasty will be superior to other dynasties.SKOL

  2. mp4philly says: Feb 15, 2014 9:55 PM

    The Redskins guy was funny. Both you Vikings guys are just annoying.

  3. ariani1985 says: Feb 15, 2014 10:17 PM

    Just don’t pull an Eddie lacy and eat all summer.

  4. doctorrustbelt says: Feb 15, 2014 10:18 PM

    I like Matthews… but… Matthews better hope his partners who sell and smuggle his Mexican hgh and steroids doesn’t get busted.

  5. vikes69 says: Feb 15, 2014 10:29 PM

    As a vikings fan, please stop brining attention to the team, We have shown nothing that has made us close to being a dynasty. Got to be more realistic.

  6. trevor123698 says: Feb 15, 2014 10:40 PM

    he proved me very wrong. i was mostly against him because he seemed to be made of glass rather than his lack of skill. as it turns i was wrong on both counts. he ran for some beautiful yardage last year. a legit starter in this league

  7. carlsbadboltfan says: Feb 15, 2014 11:34 PM

    I think he had the most 100+yard games last season with 6?

    He did surprise me as well. Now if he can just stay healthy.

  8. 4allintensivepurposes says: Feb 15, 2014 11:39 PM

    I agree with LT 100%. Ryan should try to play well next year too.

  9. slate91 says: Feb 16, 2014 12:20 AM

    As a die hard raider fan..Mathews is a great RB. With Keenan Allen and a stingy D I see the Chargers locking him up. dislike Rivers but he gets the job done.

  10. detectivejimmymcnulty says: Feb 16, 2014 12:48 AM

    He’s always been extremely talented. He’s also always been hurt. He ended this season hurt and will get hurt next year.

  11. johnnyprc says: Feb 16, 2014 4:10 AM

    Jones-Drew should be offended to be listed in a sentence with McFadden and Tate. I am the furthest thing from a Jag fan, but there is only 1 RB there worth mentioning to test FA. The other scrubs will be lucky to make it past training camp with a min. deal.

  12. johnnyjagfan says: Feb 16, 2014 9:51 AM

    Mathews benefited from Whisenhunt’s scheme. If they try anything else it’ll be SSDD from Mathews.

  13. elliottcovert says: Feb 16, 2014 10:30 AM

    Mathews wasn’t a good fit for Turner’s Air Coryell system, but he’s a much better fit in what the Chargers run now. He’s not a power back but he’s a good speed back.

  14. arwiv says: Feb 16, 2014 11:20 AM

    The best bet for a RB nowadays is to sit on the bench for the first 2 or 3 years of your rookie deal, then bust out in your last 1 or 2. These guys who are starters from day 1 in the league are beat to hell by the time their rookie deals are up.

  15. drecaz says: Feb 17, 2014 8:03 AM

    You won’t find a bigger Ryan Mathews fan than me. He can do it all good or better, with the exception of his average blocking skills. This guy has heart, and he’s always going forward at the end of each run. Although he overcame his fumbling issue this past season, he did not overcome injuries. Ryan Mathews is just not reliable for a full season. He’s proven every single season that he cannot last a whole season. The Chargers need to seriously look elsewhere NOW, whether it be in the upcoming draft, FA or look for a trade. I would not sign Mathews beyond a year, even if it meant losing him. If it takes more, the Chargers must look elsewhere, even if it means acquiring an inferior but a reliable tailback. This guy runs hard and has good speed. I never doubted him since day one, like many Charger fans did. His problem is not his skills, it’s staying healthy for an entire season. He’s going into his 5th season without being able to contribute for a single 16 game season. That’s a problem. Ryan Mathews is injury-prone. And that’s not something he can ever change. Some athletes are not made to last. While we have Woodhead and Ronnie Brown to fill in at this moment, NOW is a good time to look for another starting tailback.

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