Mike Turner has been a hot topic since the end of last season. A Restricted Free Agent of his caliber heading into the 07 season (a year where the draft is low on first-round running back talent) makes Mike a hot commodity, especially for a team like the New York Giants who have many holes to fill. There will certainly be phone calls to San Diego inquiring about Mr. Turner, and AJ will listen to the offers. But I am not sure Turner gets traded this season.
With Norv Turner as the new head coach, there will be tremendous pressure for the Chargers to start fast in 2007. Getting to the playoffs and making some noise once there is the expectation in San Diego, and all eyes will be on AJ Smith and Norv Turner. Turner has many offensive weapons at his disposal and if he can’t score points with this team he will be run out of town in a hot minute. With all weight of the entire football world’s eyes on the Chargers’ backs, I don’t think AJ Smith can afford to let a known commodity and consistent performer leave the team right now. I see Turner coming back for one more season, intrigued by the possibility of becoming more involved in the offense with Norv at the helm.
There were times last season when fans clearly felt Mike Turner should have toted the rock, but instead Cam Cameron choose to dial up a pass play or run LT up the gut for little or no gain. Those situations have a chance to be handled differently this season with Norv Turner calling the offensive plays. The lure of being involved more in the offense and having a shot to win a championship could make Mike Turner interested in sticking around. His value will still be there next season if he chooses to hit the open market.
Let’s also acknowledge the fact that while Tomlinson is Superman-like, the threat of injury is still very real. Mike Turner is extremely familiar with the system and is more than capable of handling the load should LT go down for an extended period of time. Keeping Mike for one more season fits another one of AJ Smith’s themes of having capable backups in place in case of injury. Sproles clearly isn’t an every-down back and shouldn’t be relied on to handle the backup duties exclusively.
Will AJ Smith draft a running back this year? Almost certainly. Will AJ Smith draft a Wide Receiver this year? Just about guaranteed. The WR corp will be better next season because Vincent Jackson will be a better player and because Malcolm Floyd will be healthy. If AJ makes a run at a free agent WR, then the corp becomes that much stronger, and the Chargers will add fresh blood to the position through the draft – likely in the first two rounds. Even Eric Parker will be back, and if nothing else he provides tremendous depth.
But without Mike Turner, the running back corp suffers a major blow both in terms of depth and talent. Its important that Turner is with the team this year considering the lofty goals the team has. The Bears, Colts, and Patriots all feature a multi-back rushing attack that has proved highly successful. LaDainian Tomlinson is the MVP of the league, but even he needs a breather every now and again. What better guy to have spell you than Michael Turner?
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