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Tomlinson leaves Vikings, prepares to visit Jets

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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) - LaDainian Tomlinson has left the Minnesota Vikings facility without a deal in place and is on his way to New York to visit the Jets.

A person with knowledge of the negotiations tells The Associated Press that the star running back spent several hours at Vikings headquarters Thursday, but did not reach agreement on a contract. The person requested anonymity because negotiations were ongoing.

Tomlinson emerged from the meetings shortly after 5 p.m. CST clutching a purple Vikings jersey. But he did not comment before pulling away in a black limousine.

The Vikings are interested in having Tomlinson take over for the departed Chester Taylor as the third-down back behind All-Pro Adrian Peterson.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) — LaDainian Tomlinson visited the Minnesota Vikings on Thursday to discuss joining Adrian Peterson in what would be a big-name backfield.

Tomlinson arrived in the Twin Cities on Wednesday night and dined with Vikings officials. He had more meetings scheduled for Thursday to talk about how he would fit in with the Vikings.

Minnesota lost backup running back Chester Taylor to the Chicago Bears, so it needs an experienced, versatile player behind the All-Pro Peterson. Tomlinson's ability to catch the ball out of the backfield and fill in as a capable pass blocker on third downs makes him an ideal fit.

Tomlinson's agent, Tom Condon, was also in town, both for Tomlinson's visit and to attend the trial of his client Kevin Williams against the NFL for his suspension.

The two sides had not agreed on a deal as of Thursday afternoon.

"I'm sure he wants to know what our vision is for him and then our sense for him is, will he fit? From a mindset standpoint, from a physical standpoint, from a systems standpoint," Vikings coach Brad Childress said Wednesday about the visit.

Tomlinson was released by the Chargers in February after nine brilliant seasons in San Diego. After being drafted in 2001, Tomlinson skyrocketed to stardom with the Chargers and entrenched himself as the most complete running back of his era. He ranks eighth on the NFL's all-time rushing list with 12,490 yards. His 138 career rushing touchdowns rank second, and his 153 total touchdowns rank third.

But he never reached a Super Bowl in San Diego and age and injuries started to take their toll in recent seasons. Tomlinson will turn 31 in June and is coming off the least productive season of his career. He had 730 yards rushing on 223 carries for an average of 3.3 yards per carry, all career lows. He still managed to score 12 touchdowns, but his role was reduced in an offense that shifted its focus to Philip Rivers and the passing game.

In Minnesota, Tomlinson would not have to be the every-down, do-everything player he was with the Chargers. Peterson is the No. 1 back in Minnesota, no questions asked. But joining the Vikings, who lost to the Saints in overtime in the NFC title game this season, would give Tomlinson a realistic shot at reaching the elusive Super Bowl.

"It's the old close but no cigar. That's what comes to mind," Childress said. "I'm sure as he's surveying the landscape of people that are approaching he and his agent, that's always something. You don't really want to go somewhere and get your brains beat out. You want to go and have a chance to win and compete and win that ultimate prize."

With the Vikings, Tomlinson would be asked to fill Taylor's shoes as the team's primary third-down running back, a role that could fit him well at this stage of his career. He is an excellent route runner and superb pass catcher, two things that Peterson is still working on heading into his fourth season.

Tomlinson also could be intrigued by the possibility of taking handoffs from Brett Favre. The quarterback is still mulling over a decision on whether to return for a 20th NFL season.

 

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.

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