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Can the Burner justify his contract?

March 4th, 2008

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.

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  1. Anonymous
    March 4th, 2008 at 19:07 | #1

    Is he worth that amount of money? Maybe. We’ll have to see. However, this move at least frees up another draft pick to be used on another position of need. If we hadn’t signed Turner or another free agent RB, we likely would’ve been spending a day one pick on a RB. The less needs you have going into the draft, the better off you are. Additionally, Turner and Marion Barber were/are the best 2 RBs available in free agency. Barber is a RFA and it would take a lot to pry him away from Dallas. After those two there isn’t really anyone else worth mentioning. Sure we could’ve instead picked up someone like a LaBrandon Toefield or something, but players like that don’t necessarily put fear into a defense like a Turner does. And if Mularkey can be just a little bit creative and design some plays that feature Turner and Norwood on the field at the same time, that’s a lot of speed to have to deal with. The possibilities are endless.

    Furthermore, this move gives Redman and our future young QB, whomever he shall be, an insurance blanket to rely on while we get our passing game going. One of the best things you can give a young QB is a good running game to take some pressure off of him, and with a big-play threat like Turner lining up in the backfield he should have an easier time indeed.

  2. Anonymous
    March 17th, 2008 at 09:31 | #2

    I agree completely with the OP and disagree with the above comments, mainly because we already had Turner in the backfield, and his name is Norwood. We had absolutely no reason to go after Turner when Norwood is putting up the same kind of numbers in YPC, and he is obviously fast. Big play ability? He’s got that too what with his first or so play being a 78 yarder to the house. We absolutely wasted cap space on an overpriced asset we already had on the team.

    If your arguement is for depth, then Turner, or more specifically his cost, is not what you look for in the answer. So what if we spend a sixth or seventh rounder on a ackup RB? The RB position is the easiest position to find quality players regardless of draft position. Using those same picks on either line would have been a waste because there is such a significant drop-off in talent. Plus, it all comes down to money and the fact is that same 34+ mil could have been used to sign a higher caliber offensive lineman to make what we alraedy had, Norwood, that much better. Now we have two great running backs with no one to help them AND we’re down 34 mil.

    The logic reminds me of when we dropped some top tier talent without getting any return value, that being Crumpler.

    -Jesse

  3. XRage
    November 27th, 2008 at 12:16 | #3

    13 weeks into the season, I’d say that The Burner is justifying his contract indeed. Don’t mean to brag, but it looks like I called this right.

    -xrage

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