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The San Diego Chargers have applied the franchise tag to running back Darren Sproles, according to Adam Schefter of NFL Network. Though Schefter characterizes the move as the biggest surprise of the month, we respectfully disagree. There’s no way that quietly embattled G.M. A.J. Smith could have afforded allowing Sproles to become the next budding offensive star to walk away without immediate compensation. Three years ago, it was Drew Brees, the 2008 AP offensive player of the year. Last year, it was Michael Turner, an MVP finalist in his first season with the Falcons. Though the Chargers might end up trading Sproles to a new team, they’ll at least get something of value in return. Or maybe they’ll keep him around. He’s likely not sufficiently durable to be an every-down back. If they pair him with LaDainian Tomlinson, perhaps the one-two punch can fuel the offense without leaving either player worn down for the postseason.