L.T. Or T.J.? … Monday Cup O’Chiefs

The merry-go-round of NFL personnel moves made an interesting circle on Sunday.

That’s when the New York Jets signed former San Diego RB LaDainian Tomlinson (right) to a two-year contract, reportedly worth $5.1 million.

This is the same Jets team that released its leading rusher from last season in Thomas Jones because he wouldn’t take a pay cut. Jones signed with the Chiefs last week; it’s a two-year deal, worth $5 million. It has been reported that Jones gave the Jets a chance to match that offer. Instead they decided to sign Tomlinson to a deal that is essentially $100,000 more than what Jones got from the Chiefs – two years, $5.1 million.

Releasing Jones and filling that spot by signing L.T. is a move that has the NFL collectively scratching its head. The Chiefs signing of Jones has gotten the stamp of approval from everyone in the league, because of what he can potentially bring to the Kansas City offense and the relatively low price the Chiefs are paying him. Some pundits have ranked it among the league’s top five moves of the off-season. Not so with New York’s double move at running back.

The Jets decision on Jones was one of those personnel calls that teams make all the time. It’s the same one that the Chargers made on Tomlinson. Both cases involved aging running backs making too much money. Jones was due $5.8 million this season in salary and bonus; Tomlinson was set for $5 million in salary and bonus.

Jones will be 32 years old for the ’10 season. Tomlinson will be 31; they are separated by 10 months in age. Last season, T.J. ran for 1, 402 yards, the third best total in the league. L.T. ran for 730 yards, ranking 29th in the NFL. When the Jets and Chargers met in the AFC playoffs in January neither one of these guys was a factor. Jones had 41 yards on 14 carries and his longest run was eight yards. Tomlinson had 24 yards on 12 carries, with a long run of five yards.

Here’s what these two backs did during the 2009 season:

2009 Season









Thomas Jones









LaDainian Tomlinson









The Jets had a strong season from rookie Shonn Greene and apparently they think he can carry the load as the team’s featured back. Greene got more of the calls late in the season in the Jets offense and they’ve obviously decided he will be the man in ’10.

Still, it’s hard to understand where the Jets are coming from with this entire scenario. What is it that Jones couldn’t do, that they think Tomlinson is going to provide for their offense? There really only seem to be two football factors there: Tomlinson through his career has been a better receiver, once catching 100 passes in the Chargers offense back in 2003. Jones is a good and willing receiver, he just hasn’t been asked to do it by the teams he’s played for over the years.

The other factor is that Jones and Greene are both considered power backs and maybe the Jets were looking for a different style from their second back.

The biggest question mark surrounding both of these backs is how much do they have left? Based on the last two seasons, it would seem that Jones has more in the tank than Tomlinson; his 1,402 yards last year were a career high. In the ’08-09 seasons, Jones gained 2,714 yards; Tomlinson had 1,840 yards. L.T. caught passes for 580 yards; T.J. had 265 yards receiving.

There may have been a concern in New York about Jones taking a subordinate role in the offense. Those were some of the same concerns the Chargers had with Tomlinson over the last few years as it became apparent they were looking to the future with their offense, relying on QB Philip Rivers and the passing game. But why would L.T. be any happier in a subordinate role in New York than he would be in San Diego?

Maybe the presence of offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer will make a difference. Tomlinson knows him from the time Brian worked on Marty’s staff with the Chargers. With third-down back Leon Washington coming off a broken leg, the Jets may want to have a reliable pass catcher coming out of the backfield.

Right now – and there are no games being played in March – it looks like the team that came out the best in this entire scenario has been the Chiefs. They had a hole in the roster and they got the NFL’s third leading rusher from last season to help out Jamaal Charles. The Jets created a hole in their backfield by cutting Jones and it’s hard to see how they improved themselves by signing Tomlinson.

And just what the Chargers are up too remains to be seen. They tossed Tomlinson and scrambled at the last minute to make sure they kept Darren Sproles in free agency with a high tender offer, even though they’ve publicly stated they don’t view him as a full-time back.

Last year, the Chiefs found themselves pulled into the whole situation in Denver with Jay Cutler-Josh McDaniels-Matt Cassel. Nobody really got the best end of that little soap opera as the Broncos, Bears and Chiefs did not make the playoffs.

Now, they are part of this weird Jets swap with Jones and Tomlinson. It’s going to be fun to watch how this plays out during the ’10 season.

25 Responses to “L.T. Or T.J.? … Monday Cup O’Chiefs”

  • March 15, 2010  - Stiv says:

    Yeah I’ve been kinda scratching my head over the LT to NY move myself.
    Jones had a monster year for the Jets last year while it’s been pretty clear over the last 2+ years that LT’s skills were on the decline, plus he’s been injury prone.
    I can understand why SD decided it was time to move on, what I don’t get is why the Jets think LT is a better option than Jones. This move makes about as much sense as the Redskins throwing money at LJ. *mistake*

  • March 15, 2010  - Jim Lloyd + says:

    I understand Jones has break away speed and quickness in a higher level than Larry Johnson , that’s what count’s . Plus LJ was getting a lot more money .
    LT does not have the greatest attitude and TJ does.
    The Redskins and the Jets both got about the same and the Chiefs , YES !!!!!!!
    Good Move …
    I’ not going to say just thank’s to Todd and Scott , there’s a lot more going on and more coaches to talk to and it’s starting to show .
    And this is just the first few pages .

  • March 15, 2010  - ThunderChief says:

    I’m most amazed at the garage sale price Cleveland agreed to for Brady Quinn. Count me among those that thought his NFL future was bright when he was still tossing the pig at ND and for Charlie Weis, no less.

    The Chiefs could have gotten him if they wanted him and it looks as if, they didn’t. Amazing the way certain guys look so good in college only to flame out in the big boy league. Amazing.

  • March 15, 2010  - SG says:

    “Good Move …”

    I’ve been pretty direct in most of my posts, wanting Pioli to show me some game this offseason. He’s making a number of moves I believe to be very solid and is starting to earn increasing amount of trust from me.

    Keep up the good work Don Pioli, as, although we’ve made a number of very solid moves, this puts us in the place referred to as “off to a good start.” Let’s continue progressing with the plan of getting the true “right 53 (22)”, so that this team will be a threat to make the postseason in 2010.

  • March 15, 2010  - Mad Chief says:

    ThunderChief says:
    “I’m most amazed at the garage sale price Cleveland agreed to for Brady Quinn.”

    Boy…I don’t know about that. Quinn for Peyton Hillis, a 2011 sixth-round draft pick and a conditional pick in 2012? I’d say the Browns got a pretty good deal on that, considering Quinn has been less than impressive as a pro. The thing I’m wondering is…what the Browns saw in Delhomme’s play last year that makes them think he’s “the man”? Oh well…

    I’m glad the Chiefs didn’t trade for Quinn…and I’d rather have Thomas Jones than LT.

  • March 15, 2010  - el cid says:

    Do not know what to say about Quinn. Only think he will not be any long term answer, because of what he has done so far and trade value. Guess the Chiefs knew something OR have so much tied up with Cassel, they felt they had no choice but to pass. But at that price, the Chiefs could have passed on Palko and got Quinn at the Cleveland fire sale for next to nothing. Then if Weis cannot get more out of Cassel, Quinn could have been on the sidelines.

  • March 15, 2010  - Mad Chief says:

    Question for you guys:

    What if Sam Bradford fell to us at #5? It could easily happen. Should we take him? (This is assuming the draft goes…Suh, McCoy, Berry, Okung as 1-4)

  • March 15, 2010  - arrowhead1978 says:

    I think that the chiefs have gotten a decent back, he is 32 though, which is not the best age to pick up a RB, hopefully he can come in and keep playing and with the rest he got at the end of the year last year he should have fresher legs for this upcoming season.

    Im SO glad the chiefs didn’t make a trade for Quinn, I kept thinking of a situation where Croyle was going out the door in a trade for Quinn…

  • March 15, 2010  - SG says:

    “Should we take him?”

    That’s a neat question. I’d like to try to auction the pick to Cleveland or Buffalo at #7 or #9 so they can have their pick of him or Clausen. Seattle might also move up a pick, but wouldn’t pay much to get there since they can have the other QB. Maybe a mystery candidate can step up from further down the draft board and mortgage the farm to move up to #5.

  • March 15, 2010  - jimbo says:

    Mad Chief,
    No on Bradford. I just can’t see us backing up Cassel with Bradford. Although if Cassel is a bust or worse injured, we’ve got Croyle. I think Croyle is a solid back-up & at times has impressed me considerably. I know there are fans out there that call him Brokie, which his past has proven. I think his off season rehab last year strengthened him somewhat. He looked strong during the Ravens game & nobody can argue his rocket arm, quick decisions & release.
    If we get a QB it will be in later rounds or maybe next year, pending Cassel’s 2010 season.
    Go Chiefs.

  • March 15, 2010  - Jim Lloyd + says:

    With a good running game – Matt Will start doing better and have a chance to move the ball down the field – even Brodie was starting to look a lot better .
    The Chiefs lost by small spreads , the coaching alone will change that . This is like a platoon, once in step , and all working together .
    If they pratice in St. Joe , I’m going up some .

  • March 15, 2010  - Scott C says:

    To answer Mad Chief, I would definitely try to trade out of the 5th pick if there is a team looking to sign Bradford.

    With that said what about this scenerio:

    How would you all feel about getting Suh?

  • March 15, 2010  - Mark says:

    ThunderChief says:
    “Amazing the way certain guys look so good in college only to flame out in the big boy league.”

    Can you say “Todd Blackledge”.

  • March 15, 2010  - Mad Chief says:

    Mark says:

    “Can you say “Todd Blackledge”.”

    I can…but I don’t like to. Seriously though…the Chiefs haven’t tried to pick a QB with their first pick since then. Sooner or later, we should take the chance again.

  • March 15, 2010  - Mad Chief says:

    Scott C says:
    “How would you all feel about getting Suh?”

    Good question. I would be totally shocked if Suh fell to #5. It would be really hard to pass him up…but, I’m not sure how he would fit into our D. If the Rams do indeed take Bradford, I think Suh and McCoy will be the next two players off the board. I don’t see Tampa Bay taking Berry, if Suh or McCoy are there. But, if Suh and McCoy go first and second…I think TB takes Berry. It’s hard to tell what Washington will do…O-line or QB.

    I’m really curious to see what Pioli does with the #5 pick…assuming he doesn’t (or can’t) trade it. Will he go with Berry, if he’s there? O-line? Or go with something off the wall again?

  • March 15, 2010  - Scott C says:

    Mad Chief says
    “I’m really curious to see what Pioli does with the #5 pick…assuming he doesn’t (or can’t) trade it. Will he go with Berry, if he’s there? O-line? Or go with something off the wall again?”

    After seeing what happened last year I have no idea what to expect from him. I was at the draft party last year when they announced the pick and it was funny hearing the boos from the crowd. I know Pioli and his boys had to be hearing that upstairs…

  • March 15, 2010  - Mad Chief says:

    I wonder what he thought about that? Probably didn’t care.

    Jackson may or may not turn out to be a good pick at #3 last year. But, I don’t think that ANYONE saw that one coming. So, that’s kinda’ scary. But, this years draft class is a lot better…I would say. So whoever he picks at #5 should be a damn good player. At least, that’s what I’m trying to convince myself of.

  • March 15, 2010  - Danny W says:

    I like the idea of Bradford. I think you should pull the trigger on him faster than Jimmy Clausen. The kid can make any throw on the field and those hard out patterns he makes look easy just like Manning with pin point accuracy.

    In the same hand I would love to trade out and get another second and fifth with a bonus pick next year for him though too.

    I would hate to be Scott Pioli either way because if you pass and the guy turns out to be like a Manning or Matt Ryan then Cassel gets hurt it could potentially ruin the guys career.(Pioli)

  • March 15, 2010  - JP says:

    Article title “LT or TJ?”
    That may not be the right question? How about our o-line or the Jets? TJ looked very good running behind the blocking group in New York. I hope we get some good pieces for him to follow here in KC!

  • March 15, 2010  - Kevin B says:

    I really wonder if we didn’t lose Jared Allen if Haley would have switched to the 3-4. That would have been something to see Dorsey, Allen, and Hali. I really think Herm was doing alright building a defense….until we traded Allen

    I think we picked up T-Jack because we had to get a 3-4 DE. He was a reach but I remember reading a draft blog saying Jackson was the only starting caliber 3-4 DE in the draft. And switching D, we had to get one.

    I think the Jets made a bu-bu… Tomlinson’s numbers dropped big last year, and TJ had an awesome year. If you think about it… in the last half of the year Jamaal Charles was 2nd in rushing only to Chris Johnson. TJ was Third overall last year. The 2nd and 3rd best rushers of the second half of 09 are Chiefs…..not too shabby

  • March 16, 2010  - sdchief says:

    No to the quarterback…NO…we have FAR too many holes…a QB in the 1st does NOTHING for us at this point with ZERO playmakers not named charles…this team has ZERO team speed, that has to change, QB cannot be this year’s target…they are trying to win now…for that, they must trust in the cassel for at least the season.

  • March 16, 2010  - sdchief says:

    and TJ at this point is a better option for us than LJ, for the jets…he may be a better fit…who knows.

  • March 16, 2010  - The Morning Fix | Arrowhead Addict | A Kansas City Chiefs blog says:

    [...] L.T. Or T.J.? … Monday Cup O’Chiefs-BobGretz.com The bad news for running back Thomas Jones: The Jets wanted him to take a pay cut after he rushed for more than 1,400 yards last season and when he declined to do so, they cut him. Now, he’s with the rebuilding Kansas City Chiefs instead of a team that made it to the A.F.C. Championship game last season. [...]

  • March 16, 2010  - Big Lee says:

    Agree with sdchief: KC has far too many gaping holes to worry about QB. Chiefs are fairy solid there, with Cassel and Croyle. Bradford may not be able to stay healthy, anyhow, especially playing behind the Chief OL.

Get the Flash Player to see the slideshow.


Other News