I’m not a fan of this signing. I’m sorry, I know I’m crazy. I know 98% of my fellow Falcon fans are all excited and giddy and were on the verge of not renewing their season tickets until this move, but I’m not among them.
I think the Falcons paid a high premium for what will essentially amount to a non-factor. No, I don’t think Turner is crappy, but he’s nothing special. The running position is a dime a dozen. Teams will continue to find great value in undrafted free agency and the late rounds, and will be able to continually develop young talent for three or four years, and then be able to successfully move on to the next guy.
I just don’t see the genius in paying $34.5 million to another run of the mill running back. For similar reasons I outlined in my McFadden entry, running back is a non-essential position on a rebuilding team. Why bend over backwards for an unproven player?
I think Turner is good player entering the prime of his career, and I think he’s a good fit. But I don’t think those reasons alone justify a $34.5 million investment. Was Turner arguably the best available option? Yes. But that doesn’t justify a $34.5 million investment. The same could be said about Ovie Mughelli last year, but that didn’t justify the Falcons rewarded him with the biggest contract ever paid to a fullback, especially when the offense we ran didn’t use fullbacks very much. Oh, we’ll certainly get plenty of use out of Turner, but in the end I predict it won’t justify $34.5 million.
Here’s how I can see him justifying his contract, which as I see it puts him in the Top 10 or so of most highly paid running backs in the league. In rushing yards, the 10th ranked rusher had 1119 yards. In touchdowns, it was 8. In yards per carry, it was 4.6 (only counting guys with 150+ carries). In yards per game, it was 80.1. If Turner can achieve just one of these benchmarks in 2008, then he would have justified his contract for that single season. And then we’ll see from there. Okay, if he finishes with 1118 yards, 7 touchdowns, and 4.5 yards per carry in only 14 games, then maybe I’ll cut him slack…but he’s going to have to get close.