With too much money coming his way next season, Michael Turner is likely to be released by the Atlanta Falcons which brings an opportunity for his career to come full circle by signing with a running back needing team like the San Diego Chargers.
When Michael Turner left the Chargers in 2008, it was because he was too good to be wasted playing behind LaDainian Tomlinson; he signed with the Atlanta Falcons, running for 1699 yards on his first season with the team, adding two more 1300+ yards seasons in 2010 and 2011.
Clearly, 2012 was a sign of things slowing down, and not because of injury. Turner lacks the explosiveness and speed of before, finishing with 800 yards on 222 carries, averaging a career low as a starter, 3.6 yards per carry. With a $6.9 million salary against the cap next season, the Falcons don’t feel that he is the man for them at running back anymore.
The market isn’t great for running backs, meaning Turner, who just turned 31 10 days ago, isn’t going to see anything near that amount of money next season. After two Pro Bowls and one All-Pro selection, it’s back to being a backup back for him, and while there are going to be options for him, they won’t be too lucrative.
The most interesting of them all looks to be the San Diego Chargers, who do have the talented Ryan Mathews on board as their number one back, but injuries and lack of consistency kept Mathews at only 707 yards last season and a total of 959 yards from scrimmage. In short, the San Diego Chargers don’t trust Mathews to handle the full rushing load all by himself.
Turner can still carry some of the load on offense, as long as it doesn’t mean over 10-12 carries a game. With Mathews not being the kind of back that can give the Chargers quality starts with 20-25 rushing attempts, getting Turner to lose a few pounds and lighten the load when it comes to his salary, might be a quality combination to look forward to next season.