Turner ready for takeoff

The New York Jets are taking flight in their efforts to pry running back Michael Turner from the Chargers. San Diego will likely tag Turner, a restricted free agent, with the highest possible tender, meaning they will receive first- and third-round picks if they chooses not to match any offer he receives. A sign-and-trade is also a possibility.

The reasons for the Jets interest are plentiful. New York's leading rusher in 2006 was Leon Washington, who ran for just 650 yards on 151 attempts, good for a 4.3-yard average. Turner, on the other hand, gained 502 yards on but 80 attempts, an average of 6.3 yards per carry.

Additionally, Turner has the size to carry the load for an offense. He weights 35 lbs. more than Washington and is still every bit as explosive. His 73-yard run in week two was 50 yards longer than Washington's longest run on the season.

Turner's greatest asset, however, is his strength. He runs with power and terrific leverage, making him tougher to bring down than high gas prices.

"I prepare myself as a starter each week," Turner explained. "I go out there with a whatever it takes attitude. I have the speed to get outside and turn the corner and can run people over too. Whatever it takes."

The Jets have first-hand knowledge of Turner's capabilities. New York's offensive coordinator is Brian Schottenheimer, who – in addition to being Marty Schottenheimer's son – was the Chargers' quarterbacks coach from 2002-2005.

The price for Turner is significant, but so is his potential. Should New York wait for Turner to be tendered, it would have to give up two first-day draft picks to acquire him. Instead, the Jets may try and entice general manager A.J. Smith into a sign-and-trade, offering a first-round pick and hoping that he will seize a bird in hand instead of waiting for two in the bush.

Should Turner depart, the Chargers will likely choose from a pair of capable in-house replacements. Andrew Pinnock should get first dibs. His size (5 foot 10, 250 lbs.) and north-and-south running style make him an ideal candidate for spelling the shiftier LaDainian Tomlinson.

Another potential replacement is the 5-foot-6 Darren Sproles, a quicker and more explosive option. No matter his place on the depth chart, the Chargers figure to feature him in certain packages in hopes of exploiting his big-play ability.

More important than what San Diego will do with Turner's place on the depth chart is what it will do with the extra draft pick. San Diego could package its own pick with New York's in order to move up in the draft and select a premiere receiver such as Ted Ginn Jr. or local favorite Dwayne Jarrett.

Otherwise, the Chargers could keep both picks and hope for a dynamic one-two punch like in 2005, when the team landed Shawne Merriman and Luis Castillo in the opening stanza.

Regardless, there is an excellent chance that – one way or the other – Michael Turner will end up with the Jets. Given Turner's obvious talent and A.J. Smith's successful track record of turning draft picks into stars, it appears both teams could end up the better for it.


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