NFL: AP Source: Chargers will non-tender Sproles
By BERNIE WILSON
AP Sports Writer
SAN DIEGO — First LaDainian Tomlinson, and now Darren Sproles.
The San Diego Chargers have decided not to tender a contract to Sproles, allowing the speedy running back to test the free agent market, a person with knowledge of the situation said Friday.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the team hasn’t made an official announcement.
The move came four days after the team released Tomlinson, who ranks eighth on the all-time rushing list with 12,490 yards.
If the Chargers wanted to keep Sproles, they’d have to make him an offer of about $7.3 million.
The Chargers have always valued Sproles as a multiple threat. While they can still talk with Sproles about a long-term deal, other teams might want to give him a shot as a featured back.
Sproles has said he believes he can be an every-down back. The Chargers have used him as a backup running back, return man and as a receiver out of the backfield.
He made about $6.6 million last season after being tagged as a franchise player. Tomlinson made about $6 million. Still, the Chargers’ running game ranked second-to-last in the league.
Sproles was second to Tomlinson last year with 343 yards and three touchdowns on 93 carries, an average of 3.7 yards per carry. He was fourth with 45 catches for 497 yards and four TDs. He was also the primary kickoff and punt returner and scored on a punt return.
Two seasons ago, Sproles had 328 all-purpose yards in a wild-card playoff game against Indianapolis, including the winning 22-yard touchdown run in overtime.
The next week, though, with Tomlinson sidelined by a groin injury, Pittsburgh held him to 15 yards on 11 carries. He did have a 63-yard kickoff return and a 62-yard TD catch in the game’s final two minutes after Pittsburgh had opened a 35-17 lead.
Tomlinson, 30, believes he can play three or four more seasons.