Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Tomlinson and Westbrook Join the 30 Something’s RB Club

LaDainian Tomlinson and Brian Westbrook were cut by their respective teams this week, joining the long list of great to hall of fame running backs who hit the wall after reaching the big 3-0.

Westbrook was drafted by the Eagles in 2002, made 2 pro bowls, and is the Eagles all-time leading rusher. However, injuries and mounting concussions led to him missing several games last season in which he turned 30. After Phily drafted Lesean McCoy in the first round before last season, Westbrook became expendable.

Meanwhile Tomlinson was drafted by the Chargers in 2001, made 5 pro bowls, broke several NFL records including tds in a year, earned MVP honors in 2006, in an 8 year hall of fame career. However after turning 30 before last season and lingering injuries, Tomlinson had the worst season of his career. With the emergence of Darren Sproles, he too became replaceable.

This trend is very common recently, especially with running backs that have had large workloads/carries. Shaun Alexander went from NFL MVP, 1800+ yds, 27tds at 28, to cut at 30. Marshall Faulk only had 3 tds after the season he turned 30. Eddie George cracked 1,000 yards at 30, but his touchdowns dropped from 12 to 5. Larry Johnson and Jamal Lewis were also given pink slips this year after turning 30. Edgerrin James and Fred Taylor were shipped out by their long term teams a few years back because they saw the signs coming.

In fact, this sporcle illustrates the lonely list of backs 30 or older that have run for 1200+ yards.

The recent exceptions above shared carries, had late career comebacks, or strangely enough went to UVA, while the earlier ones are Hall of Famers.

Which current running backs should be looking for realtors? Besides ones mentioned in the sporcle, only Ricky Williams ran for 1,000+ yards last year and is over 28. Fred Jackson is 28 and had over 1000 yards, but only had 2 tds and was filling in for suspended Marshawn Lynch. McGahee (28), Parker (29), and Fargas (29) are already backups, while Julius Jones (28, 663 yds, 2 tds), Ronnie Brown (28, 648 yds, 8 tds), and Clinton Portis (28, 494 yds, 1 td) should be calling their agents and reading the fine print on their contracts.

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