The New York Jets will have some explaining to do.
Wooed over the past four days, free-agent running back LaDainian Tomlinson chose the Jets over the Minnesota Vikings. The future Hall of Famer signed a two-year contract, ESPN's Adam Schefter reports.
The Tomlinson signing is a sexy acquisition, even though he'll likely be Shonn Greene's sidekick. But how does Tomlinson look better in the Jets' backfield than Thomas Jones would have? We don't know the monetary terms of Tomlinson's contract, but it's hard to imagine a substantial discount over what Jones was asking.
Jones would've made $5.8 million for the Jets under his old contract. The Jets released him rather than pay that much. He signed with the Kansas City Chiefs for two years and $5 million. He reportedly gave the Jets the option to match the offer and retain him, but they declined.
The Jets released Jones also because he'll turn 32 in August.
While he is 10 months older than Tomlinson, Jones is coming off a twice-as-productive season.
The decision to cut Jones didn't go over well with, at the very least, a majority of the offensive line.
"A passionate guy like that, with the intensity he brought at certain points in the game, it ignited sparks in everybody," right guard Brandon Moore told New York Daily News reporter Rich Cimini when the Jets cut Jones. "You would've liked to have kept a guy like that."
Jones rushed for a career-best 1,402 yards and 14 touchdowns. He averaged 4.2 yards a carry.
Tomlinson rushed for a career-low 730 yards and 12 touchdowns. His 3.3-yard average was a personal-worst.
Imagine if Greene were to suffer an injury that sidelines him for a significant period. Could the Jets feel confident moving forward with Tomlinson and Leon Washington, who's returning from a broken leg? Or would Jones' presence be more comforting?
About the only way I see Tomlinson as a more attractive option than Jones is that he makes the Jets' backfield more multidimensional. Jones and Greene are the same type of bulldozing back, although Jones is a far better receiver than Greene is.
I'm sure the Jets view Jones as nearing the end of his shelf life. Maybe he already reached his sell-by date right before the playoffs, when the Jets made Greene the featured back.
But I think we know for sure Tomlinson has reached the twilight.