Diner morning news: Bolts need a big back

QUOTE: “It is a rough road that leads to the heights of greatness.” -- Seneca the Younger

Chargers and running backs

Chris Mortensen of ESPN is reporting that the Chargers are looking to move corner Antonio Cromartie for a running back or a draft pick -- or anything. The reality is that Cromartie has not played well in two years and has disappointed the Chargers. Because of that, the team won’t be offering him a long-term deal, so it would be prudent to try and trade him now before he becomes a total free agent. On the surface, the idea of a trade makes sense because the Chargers need a back -- which is going to then make it hard for LaDainian Tomlinson to gain employment elsewhere. But enough of LT. We’ve covered that issue. Let’s stay focused on the Chargers.

The Chargers need a back, and they want a big one who can carry the load down after down. In the Norv Turner offense, they need a back who can make teams fear the run, defend the run and open the play-action pass package. What made the Chargers’ downfield passing game so remarkable last year was that they were able to do it without any kind of running game and still got teams to defend the play action. With a bigger full-time back, they would be able to expand their offense and reduce the burden on their passing game.

Last year, the Chargers had only 155 runs of four yards or more, which placed them 28th in the NFL. (By the way, the worst team was the 49ers, who only had 136 such runs — so much for establishing the run as the foundation of your offense.) So without the ability to run the ball and get the down and distance in their favor, the Chargers were still able to move the ball well via the air. But they need a back and they know it -- and all of the NFL knows it as well.

Can they survive with Cromartie? Yes, they sure can. Since Cromartie had his 10-interception Pro Bowl season in 2007, he hasn’t been very effective. He has just five interceptions the past two years, has not been a force in the run game and has been very average in coverage. Based on a tape evaluation of Cromartie, it’s hard to justify paying him in the upper echelon of corners in the league, something he or his agent will not want to hear. Cromartie wants to be paid for those 10 picks and couldn’t care less that teams don’t view him as a shutdown corner.

As poorly as he has played, however, he’s still worth more than running back Marion Barber of the Cowboys. Barber looks closer to being done as a full-time player than he does to resurrecting his career. As the Chargers have learned with Tomlinson, once a back starts to fade, he never gets it back.

One thing’s for sure, this offseason is going to be filled with trades and trade rumors.

Raiders sign Seabass

No one should be surprised to see the Raiders give kicker Sebastian Janikowski the same deal they gave punter Shane Lechler last year. Now, I know that a punter and a kicker are different and logically should be valued differently come contract time, but at the Hotel, logic does not always prevail. Once Lechler got the biggest deal in the history of punter deals, Janikowski knew his time was coming. He shouldn’t pay his agent a commission, he should give Lechler’s agent the fee — he carried the deal.

Once the Raiders tag defensive end Richard Seymour as their franchise player, it will put their committed cash number fairly high. This will limit their actions in free agency, which might be a good thing since free agency hasn’t been good to the Raiders. From Javon Walker to DeAngelo Hall, the Raiders have overspent and failed to deliver, so their inactivity in free agency might be a good thing. They have to fix their offensive line at some point, but the draft might be the only place to address this need.

The Raiders’ success next season depends largely on who’s allowed to play quarterback. But that story is for another time….

Follow me on Twitter: michaelombardi

For a look at 10 of the top UFA's in the NFC, check out this article from Bleacher Report.

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