Chargers can't afford to lose another RB

February, 27, 2012
2/27/12
11:00
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The San Diego Chargers may say goodbye to another running back.


Mike Tolbert is a free agent and there is a solid chance he could leave San Diego. The Chargers may make a play to keep him because he is so versatile. However, San Diego has other needs, and it could have trouble keeping Tolbert because several other teams may show interest and make it difficult for San Diego to keep the role player.

Denver and Kansas City could be among the several teams to make a play for Tolbert. I know Ryan Mathews is the Chargers’ starter and he has showed great signs of coming on, but I don’t think the Chargers can let Tolbert walk.

He is a threat as a runner, blocker, receiver and on special teams. He is one of the team’s toughest players and he is adored in the locker room.

It may not be prudent to lose a player like Tolbert a year after Darren Sproles left in free agency to New Orleans. The Chargers regretted letting Sproles go to New Orleans. He was sorely missed. Tolbert would be, too.

While Sproles was a threat to score every time he touched the ball as a runner and as a receiver, Tolbert brings a different element as Mathews’ backup. He’s a punishing runner and he’s solid in short-yardage situations. He averaged 4.0 yards per carry last season and had eight rushing touchdowns, while adding 54 catches.

The Chargers would have to go out and find a replacement for Tolbert if he walks. After seeing Michael Turner leave after the 2007 season and Sproles go last season, I think it’s time for the Chargers to do what it takes to keep a running back from running away in free agency.

Bill Williamson | email

ESPN Oakland Raiders reporter

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