Imagining L.T. in New Orleans

Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas

Call it wishful thinking or speculation or maybe there's really something to it. Whatever the case, the possibility of running back LaDainian Tomlinson landing with the New Orleans Saints is intriguing.

There's no indication the Saints are interested because they're not about to comment on a player under contract with another team. But things aren't exactly rosy between Tomlinson and the San Diego Chargers and that means you can dream. Throw in the fact that Tomlinson's good buddy and former teammate Drew Brees plays quarterback for the Saints and you can see some logic at work.

Sure, New Orleans is loaded on offense and still has work to do on defense. But can the Saints afford to say no to Tomlinson if he is available at a reasonable price?

Tomlinson's been the best running back in the NFL for much of this decade and the Saints don't exactly have a consistent running game. Tomlinson is 29 with lots of miles on his legs. He's only six months younger than Deuce McAllister, who the Saints let go. But Tomlinson did give the Chargers 292 carries last year.

He may not be the true power back the Saints would like to go with Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush. But, if the Saints can get Tomlinson, all the plans change. Tomlinson, who also can catch passes, would become the instant starter.

Maybe you don't want Tomlinson carrying 300 times at this point in his career. That's where Thomas comes in. He can lighten Tomlinson's load quite a bit and new fullback Heath Evans can handle some of the short-yardage carries.

What about Bush?

That's a question the Saints never have been able to fully answer. Bring in Tomlinson and the backfield suddenly gets very crowded. Maybe you move Bush to wide receiver or use him as some sort of hybrid receiver/running back. Or maybe you just pull the plug and trade Bush for a draft pick or two (after all, the Saints only have four draft picks right now).

The Saints went for broke last year when they traded for Jonathan Vilma and Jeremy Shockey. Coach Sean Payton and Mickey Loomis know they have lots of talent in place. They can't afford to waste the best years of Brees' career with .500 teams. If they can make this team better, they have to at least consider this move.

Yeah, defense is the weak spot and Payton and Loomis have been working on that. But, one last thought here. Put Tomlinson on that offense and the defense, which wouldn't have to spend all day on the field, suddenly would look a lot better.