SAN DIEGO (AP) -- LaDainian Tomlinson remained with the San Diego Chargers in the hours leading up to NFL free agency and the reopening of the trading period.

Beyond that, there were no specifics coming from either the Chargers or Tomlinson's camp about the future of the 2006 NFL MVP.

General manager A.J. Smith said Thursday that the team was still working to restructure the star running back's contract in an attempt to lower his base pay for 2009.

"All I can tell you is everything's ongoing," Smith said during his annual news conference before the beginning of free agency. "I've got nothing more to add at this time. But I will add this - we'd love to have him. We hope he returns."

Smith refused to describe the tone of the talks with agent Tom Condon or if there's a time frame in which the team would like to finish a deal done with Tomlinson, whose contract runs through 2011.

"I'm just going to let it go for the way it is. Everything is ongoing," Smith said.

Condon didn't return a call seeking comment.

If the two sides can't agree, trading or releasing Tomlinson remain options for the Chargers.

San Diego made it to the playoffs with an 8-8 record, beat Indianapolis in an overtime wild-card game and then were outmuscled by the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Tomlinson was slowed during the regular season with a toe injury, then hurt his groin in the regular-season finale. He was forced out of the playoff win against the Colts and sat out against the Steelers, the second straight season his postseason was cut short by injury.

While his 1,110 yards were the lowest of his brilliant eight-year career, Tomlinson still finished fourth in the AFC and 10th in the NFL.

Tomlinson is due $6,725,000 in 2009. His salary cap number is $8.8 million, which includes a prorated share of the signing bonus from his 2004 contract.

Last week, the Chargers placed the non-exclusive franchise tag on Darren Sproles, virtually assuring that the speedy little running back-returner will be back next season.

Sproles stands to make $6.62 million next year, unless the sides agree to a long-term contract.

The L.T. saga has had a few twists and turns.

In late January, Smith said he regretted making comments mocking Tomlinson.

After Tomlinson said on his Web site last that he wanted to stay in San Diego, Smith mimicked L.T.'s comments practically word-for-word.

Before the Chargers' postseason run ended, the GM was angry that the severity of Tomlinson's groin injury was revealed, calling out the player and his agent. Tomlinson, the franchise's most brutally honest employee, confirmed that he had a detached tendon his groin while the team said only that he had a strained groin.

Smith said four unrestricted free agents won't be back: guard Mike Goff, linebacker Marques Harris, center Jeremy Newberry and defensive end Igor Olshansky.

The Chargers also got rid of linebacker Anthony Waters, a third-round draft pick in 2007.

Smith said left tackle Marcus McNeill had major neck surgery three weeks ago.

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