Chargers change mind on Sproles

Updated: March 5, 2010, 8:44 AM ET
By John Clayton | ESPN.com

The San Diego Chargers changed their minds and placed the first- and third-round tender on running back Darren Sproles on Thursday, the team announced.

The Chargers also made the surprising move of releasing veteran defensive tackle Jamal Williams.

A week ago, the team said it would not tender Sproles, allowing him to become a free agent. On Thursday, the Chargers decided they couldn't afford to lose Sproles after releasing LaDainian Tomlinson.

Sproles would earn $7.29 million in 2010 if he signs the tender. The Chargers would have seven days to match an offer if a team tries to sign him.

If it doesn't match, San Diego would receive a first- and a third-round draft choice from the team that signs him.

Last year, the Chargers kept Sproles by placing the franchise tag on him at $6.6 million.

Williams has been one of San Diego's key run-stuffers for 12 seasons. He sustained a triceps injury in the 2009 season opener and missed the rest of the year. He also has a history of knee injuries.

The Chargers also made first-and third-round tenders to outside linebacker Shawne Merriman, left tackle Marcus McNeill and wide receivers Malcom Floyd and Vincent Jackson.

Backup running back Michael Bennett also was released, leaving the Chargers thin at that position. LaDainian Tomlinson was released last week after a brilliant nine-year run with the Bolts. The Chargers are expected to take a running back high in the draft.

Later Thursday, the Chargers reached a deal in principle with the New York Jets to trade cornerback Antonio Cromartie. The Jets confirmed the deal. It includes a 2011 third-round draft pick that could turn into a second-round pick, sources told ESPN's Adam Schefter.

John Clayton covers the NFL for ESPN.com. The Associated Press contributed to this story.

John Clayton

NFL senior writer

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