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Chargers in contract talks to keep Mike Tolbert

San Diego Chargers' Tolbert gets past Baltimore Ravens' Lewis to score a touchdown during their Sunday Night NFL football game in San Diego

San Diego Chargers running back Mike Tolbert (35) gets past Baltimore Ravens inside linebacker Ray Lewis (52) to score a touchdown during the first quarter of their Sunday Night NFL football game in San Diego, California December 18, 2011. REUTERS/Mike Blake (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)


Kevin Acee of the Union-Tribune San Diego reports that the Chargers are in contract talks to retain free agent running back Mike Tolbert, and negotiations have reached a “critical stage.”

Per Acee, the team wants to know soon whether Tolbert is “in or out,” and may threaten to move on to free agent Jackie Battle if a deal isn’t reached in short order.

Tolbert is a considerably more valuable back than Battle, though, so the leverage game shouldn’t be fooling Tolbert’s agents. Tolbert can pass block and catch passes. Battle doesn’t do either of those things particularly well. Tolbert is also a couple of years younger than Battle.

Tolbert’s market doesn’t appear to be crawling with suitors, however. The Chiefs signed Peyton Hillis instead of him on Thursday, and Tolbert isn’t known to have taken any other free agent visits.