Chargers pitch restructured deal to LT

Updated: March 9, 2009, 7:58 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

The San Diego Chargers have presented LaDainian Tomlinson with a restructured contract offer, though it may not be a final one.

Earlier, it was reported, and ESPN confirmed with sources, that the Chargers had presented Tomlinson with a final offer in an effort to hold onto the five-time Pro Bowl running back. Monday, the team and Tomlinson's agent, Tom Condon, both said that the parties are in the "final stages" of negotiations, but the latest offer is not "take-it-or-leave it."

A team source told ESPN.com's John Clayton there is no deadline for a deal to get done and negotiations are proceeding amicably. The Chargers are trying to adjust the final three years of the eight-year deal Tomlinson signed in 2004 which, at the time, made him the highest-paid running back in NFL history.

San Diego's offer is for less money than the $24 million Tomlinson is due to make by 2011, and terms of the restructuring are not known. He is scheduled to earn $6.725 million for the coming season, with a salary-cap number of $8.791 million. If a deal ultimately is not worked out, the team could release him.

Tomlinson, who turns 30 this summer, battled injuries to his toe, knee and groin last season and had a career-low 292 rushing attempts and 1,110 yards. He has played his entire eight-year career with the Chargers, but he's been injured at playoff time the past two years.

His current contract, like many in the NFL, was back-loaded and the Chargers are looking for salary-cap flexibility.

"I feel that I need to make it very clear that I have NO intentions of leaving San Diego," Tomlinson wrote on his Web site in January. "San Diego is where my career started and where I'd like it to end."

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LaDainian Tomlinson plays despite a groin injury and scores a TD in a 23-17 win vs. the Colts.

Last month, the Chargers placed the nonexclusive franchise tag on speedy running back Darren Sproles, virtually assuring that he will be back for the 2009 season.

Sproles had been scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent. The Chargers tendered him a one-year contract offer of approximately $6.62 million, the average of the top five salaried running backs from 2008.

General manager A.J. Smith said in February the team had plans to begin speaking with Sproles' agent, Gary Wichard, about a long-term deal.

At the time, Smith shot down speculation that putting the tag on Sproles spelled the end of Tomlinson's record-setting tenure in San Diego.

"This has nothing to do with LT," Smith said. "Our intention is to pursue LT."

Information from ESPN senior NFL analyst Chris Mortensen, ESPN.com senior NFL writer John Clayton, and The Associated Press was used in this report.

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