Does signing LT improve the Vikings?

This morning, I discussed the Thomas Jones deal — two years for $5 million — that landed the veteran running back in Kansas City to work in a two-back system with Jamaal Charles in Charlie Weis’ new offense.

Now, reports are surfacing that another veteran back, former Charger LaDainian Tomlinson, could agree to a deal with the Vikings, according to Judd Zulgad of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. The running back is scheduled to meet with the club on Thursday.

The sticking point of the deal could be playing time and money for LT.

We know he will play a secondary role if he does end up in Minnesota with Adrian Peterson clearly the No. 1 back for the Vikings. But, the concern I have is that Minnesota could be settling for LT after losing Chester Taylor, who was a vital part to the Minnesota offense and on third downs, via free agency to the Bears.

If you sign LT, are you really replacing Taylor? The goal of NFL teams during free agency is to replace their losses with equal or better talent. It is hard for me to say that LT is of equal or better talent that Taylor at this point of his career.

When you watch Tomlinson from the ’09 season, he had a hard time producing any explosive runs due to the fact that he doesn’t get to the second level of the defense anymore like we were used to seeing. A 15-yard gain would have been a 60-yarder in the past, but LT has trouble getting to the secondary where he can exploit a defensive back in the open field.

I will agree that Tomlinson is still very productive when offenses get inside the red zone — especially inside of the 10-yard line. He was able to score TDs in Norv Turner’s off-tackle power scheme in San Diego last season, but that is AP’s gig for the Vikings.

The last thing Brad Childress wants to do is pull his feature back in Peterson to get LT involved near the goal line.

Tomlinson will bring some positives to this club in the fact that he is a veteran, can pass protect and catch the ball out of the backfield on third down. But, he isn’t equal when matched up against Taylor’s skills.

And, let’s not forget about the money. Just like Jones, who will have a bigger role in the Kansas City offense, you don’t want to overspend for LT. I understand that Tomlinson has star power in his name, but the production tells us otherwise.

If the Vikings do pull off this deal, I don’t see them getting better as a football team.

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