Turner decision coming soon

The San Diego Chargers will tender Michael Turner – that is the easy part. But is the plan to tender him at the highest point – $2.35 million that comes with a first- and third-round pick as compensation if another team signs him to an offer sheet and the Bolts do not match?

Odds appear to be leaning that way.

"The general consensus is that, if you have a one and a three, they're untouchable," general manager A.J. Smith told Scout.com at the NFL Combine. "And, for the most part, it's totally correct. But sometimes, it's a rare player where an organization might go, 'Whoa.' It's a steep price, but he might be in that unique category, not for a lot of clubs, but it only takes one to say, 'Boy it's interesting.'" There are plenty of clubs who will be intrigued by what San Diego does with their top reserve and Smith will talk to the media on Thursday detailing his plans for free agency and the NFL Draft.

If they tender him at first round level - $1.85 million – there figures to be plenty of suitors, but there could be plenty of options anyway.

There is no shortage of teams that are looking for a talented tailback and Turner certainly qualifies. He has toted the rock 157 times in his three-year career and has averaged 6.0 yards per carry.

Not only does he barrel over the competition, he has shown the speed to get outside and take it the distance – two of his touchdown runs have gone 70-plus yards. Last year, Turner had seven carries where he gained 20 or more yards. But the real work comes up the middle where he seldom goes down on first contact.

Those attributes have several teams salivating.

Imagine this. San Diego Chargers running back the victim of a bidding war with teams offering up picks aplenty to acquire the services of the restricted free agent. It is already on the verge of happening.

Make no mistake - this is more than just conjecture.

It is a real possibility and it appears both New York teams will be involved. General managers Mike Tannenbaum and Floyd Reese will be in hot pursuit of the talented Turner when the floodgates officially open.

Both New York teams. You can't dream this stuff up.

Reese recently hinted that Turner would be a perfect candidate to replace the retired Tiki Barber, if they offer up the picks to acquire his services. Forget the touchdown maker, Brandon Jacobs. Reese is eyeing a landmine through the defensive line in Turner.

Tannenbaum is in a quandary. He has plenty of running backs but none of them are any good. He needs a franchise back to continue the legacy that Curtis Martin established. The New York Jets believe Turner would be worth the price.

There are several other teams in the market, including the Denver Broncos. With a trade unlikely, they would have to fork over the picks and make a hefty offer to steal Turner from their division rival.

The Chargers are expected to give Turner the maximum tender, requiring any team signing him to an offer sheet to forfeit first and third round picks. Something could, however, get done long before that.

Smith is a shrewd businessman and is the perfect pilot to orchestrate through the New York powers. But, he will be swift if the right deal presents itself.

The Jets need a running back more than the Giants - that much is clear. But, will the Giants be pressured into making a deal for a running back because of their desire to see Eli Manning succeed?

The other problem is the Giants have given the Chargers three Pro Bowlers on the strength of one trade - are they that willing to go back to a place that last saw them with their pants around their ankles?

It is hard to fathom Turner returning to San Diego for 2007.

An incredible asset, the Chargers can't afford to let him walk away for free like the Jets did with LaMont Jordan two years ago. Have the Jets learned from that - seeing Jordan struggle in Oakland? Their situation is so desperate that it would be easy to turn a blind eye.

Plus, Turner is different. He mows over the competition. His trademark has been leaving cleat marks on the opposition.

Trading Turner now would continue to give San Diego young playmakers to continue the dynasty. Letting him walk for free may give you protection for the year but this can't be a one year deal in the mold of Drew Brees – this has to be a building block for future playoff opportunities.


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