- LaDainian Tomlinson is about to become the highest-paid running back in the NFL. Tomlinson said after Thursday's practice he has agreed in principle
to a deal with the San Diego Chargers that will eclipse the eight-year, $50.5 million contract signed by the Redskins' Clinton Portis in the
Asked if his deal will be worth more than that given Portis, Tomlinson replied, "Absolutely. I don't think it will even be close."
Few players have matched Tomlinson's three years in the NFL, a span in which he's rushed for 4,564 yards and 37 touchdowns.
Tomlinson, the fifth player in NFL history to rush for more than 200 yards in four games, last year became the first to rush for 1,000 yards and catch
"Good for him," quarterback Drew Brees said of Tomlinson's deal. "It's awesome and he deserves it."
Tomlinson's contract will be an extension to the two years he has remaining. He's scheduled to earn $5.5 million this year and $6.5 in 2005.
When Tomlinson signs, he'll be tied to the Chargers through the 2011 season, which he likes.
"Because I want to be here to make the change," said Tomlinson, who's seen the Chargers go 17-31 since being the fifth overall pick in 2001. "I want
to be here when people say what the organization used to be when they were down, and now these guys are up and they are winning.
"And I want to be a part of that group."
Tomlinson said he's never considered playing out his current deal or leaving the Chargers, a team that hasn't had a winning record or made the
playoffs since 1995.
"In my opinion, that is what losers do," he said. "They bail out on a team. [They say] 'So this team is not winning, it's not going anywhere, I got to
get out of here.'
"I've never been that way, so why change now?"
Coach Marty Schottenheimer hasn't changed his mind about Tomlinson.
"He's the best running back I've every seen," Schottenheimer said. "He's a terrific, terrific player, and all the superlatives about him as a player I
think are exceeded by the fact that he is a greater person."
Chargers general manager A. J. Smith wouldn't confirm the Chargers agreed to terms with Tomlinson. Tom Condon, Tomlinson's agent, wasn't available for
comment. But Tomlinson said it all.
"I didn't want to linger on into the season," he said. "I didn't want to be thinking about it. It's a relief and now I can just play football."
The contract is expected to be signed over the weekend.
Smith said there was nothing to report on the stalled negotiations with quarterback Philip Rivers, their top pick who has missed 20 practices.
Defensive tackle DeQuincy Scott, who had a team-high 8½ sacks last year, could be facing surgery for a hernia. If he's operated on, he would miss a
month. Fullback Andrew Pinnock is out for about two weeks after straining his calf in Wednesday night's practice.