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Friday, February 26, 2010
Source: Sproles can test free agency

By Adam Schefter
ESPN

For the second time in a week, a major turnover has affected San Diego's backfield.

In the same week the Chargers decided to release running back LaDainian Tomlinson, they also opted not to tender running back Darren Sproles, freeing him to leave the team in free agency without any compensation, said a source close to the situation.

If the Chargers wanted to retain Sproles' rights, they would have had to tender him with an offer of nearly $7.3 million for the coming season by March 4. But San Diego deemed that price too high, giving its running back the chance to test free agency. San Diego still would like to re-sign him, and it could, but it will face competition from other teams.

Now San Diego's backfield is expected to take on a significantly different look next season, whether or not Sproles returns.

Tomlinson will not be back and there is a decent chance Sproles will not be, either. San Diego is expected to look to free agency, trades and the draft in an effort to rebuild its backfield. Free agent running backs such as Minnesota's Chester Taylor and Pittsburgh's Willie Parker would have to view San Diego's offense as appealing.

Declining to tender Sproles is one of many significant issues facing the Chargers this offseason. San Diego still must figure out a way to keep free-agent wide receivers Vincent Jackson and Malcom Floyd, decide what it wants to do with linebacker Shawne Merriman, and find a trade partner for cornerback Antonio Cromartie.

Adam Schefter is ESPN's NFL Insider.