<
>

Will Tomlinson land in the AFC East?

The part of the season when daydreaming readers inundate me with questions about Player X coming to play for their favorite team is well under way.

Player X can be a free agent, the subject of trade rumors or someone with ties to the new coach.

Today, it's a fading superstar who got cut. The San Diego Chargers released running back LaDainian Tomlinson on Monday, and fans want to know if he's going to wear their colors.

At first glance, it doesn't seem like the AFC East would be a likely destination for Tomlinson.

Tomlinson, in an interview with Sports Illustrated's Jim Trotter, said he wants to play for a team with an established, top-flight quarterback.

"I do know that I would have to go to a team that has a [proven] quarterback, a place where you know you have a chance to win because of the quarterback," Tomlinson said.

That eliminates three AFC East teams right there, leaving the New England Patriots as the only club that fits that criterion.

The New York Jets and Miami Dolphins had first-year starters last season. To project the Buffalo Bills' quarterback would be guesswork.

We also need to keep in mind that Tomlinson spent his entire career in San Diego and played collegiately at Texas Christian. A cold-weather destination might be a tough sell for a running back who will turn 31 in June.

Nevertheless, Trotter mentions the Patriots, Philadelphia Eagles and Green Bay Packers as possibilities. But ESPNBoston.com's Mike Reiss doesn't see a fit for Tomlinson in New England.

The Patriots already have a stable of backs: Laurence Maroney, Fred Taylor, Sammy Morris and BenJarvus Green-Ellis. They probably will re-sign free agent Kevin Faulk. Tomlinson would be more of the same.

Plus, there's no love lost between Tomlinson and the Patriots. He ripped the Patriots and coach Bill Belichick because they "showed no class at all" after the 2006 playoff game in San Diego.

Each of the other AFC East teams has two solid, 1,000-yard capable running backs -- for now.

The Jets might be on the lookout if they decide to part ways with Thomas Jones and Leon Washington has trouble returning from his leg injury.

The Bills learned they don't need Marshawn Lynch after supplanting the troublemaker with the classy and economical Fred Jackson. The Bills would need some backfield assistance if they were to dump Lynch, and Tomlinson is the type of iconic figure -- similar to Terrell Owens a year ago -- who would capture their fans' imaginations.