The Atlanta Falcons are expected to release running back Michael Turner and have actually been pointed to as a possible destination for New York Jets running back Shonn Greene when he hits free agency. Could it end up being a free agent swap, with Michael Turner joining the Jets? As a bigger, powerful running back, Michael Turner would be an ideal candidate to mesh with Bilal Powell and Joe McKnight in a three-man backfield.
The Atlanta Falcons are expected to release running back Michael Turner, who holds the franchise record for rushing touchdowns (66) and piled up 7,338 rushing yards with the team. The Jets will be looking for a replacement for Shonn Greene, and will likely be looking for a power runner to join Bilal Powell and Joe McKnight.
Michael Turner was set to make $6.9 million this season, but it's very unlikely he will get that kind of money on the open market. He's 31 and probably only has a few seasons left in the tank at this point. Michael Turner can still be an effective short yardage and goal line rusher, but Jacquizz Rodgers began moving in on his playing time last season and made him expendable for the Falcons this offseason.
If the Jets are able to restructure Santonio Holmes as they are trying to do, it's feasible that they could fit Michael Turner in their backfield. He would give them a big, experienced running back that can handle a heavy workload if necessary, while they would still be looking to increase the roles of Bilal Powell and Joe McKnight.
The big question is: how much does Michael Turner have left? His yards per carry average plummeted to 3.6 last season, from 4.5 yards per carry in 2011. Turner had never been below 4.1 yards per carry over the course of a season in his entire career prior to 2012. He's at the scary age of 31 for running backs, right around the time when they seem to fade fast. Do the Jets think he still has some gas left or do they buy the steep drop-off as permanent?
Those are questions the Jets will have to answer and figure out how it works with Joe McKnight and Bilal Powell. If the Jets feel good about Powell and McKnight getting the lion's share of the work, Michael Turner could serve as a short yardage and goal line back when the team needs to grind out a few tough yards with a bigger body. Part of that will also depend on the vision Marty Mornhinweg has for the offense.