Michael Turner Flies the Coop for Falcons

The Bolts had three unrestricted free agents hit the open market on Thursday evening. Three days later, all three are off the shelves. The final free agent to fall is running back Michael Turner, who has agreed to a six-year contract with the Atlanta Falcons. After giving San Diego its franchise back via a trade in the 2001 draft, the Falcons hope that the Bolts just returned the favor.

Michael Turner's contract with the Atlanta Falcons is worth $34 million over six years, according to ESPN radio. The big-money deal will likely force the Falcons to cut ties with 11-year veteran Warrick Dunn, who has a projected base salary of $4 million in the final year of his contract.

Although Turner has finally escaped from LaDainian Tomlinson's ample shadow, he has not escaped the two-back system. Turner will split carries in Atlanta with promising third-year back Jerious Norwood.

"We are pleased to be able to add a very talented running back and a player who has produced at a high level in this League when given the opportunity," said Falcons General Manager Thomas Dimitroff. "We think he's ready to take the next step and have a more prominent role in an offense and we are happy he decided that opportunity is going to be here in Atlanta."

In four NFL seasons, Turner has carried 228 times for 1,257 yards (5.5 ypc) and six touchdowns. He will add a big-play element to the Falcons' offense. Over the last three years, Turner has 10 carries of 20-plus yards and has at least one carry of 70-plus yards in each of those seasons.

Turner will have a chance to show Chargers fans what they are missing next season. The Falcons will come to Qualcomm Stadium for a regular-season game in 2008.

"Besides being a quality football player, Michael Turner is a quality person," added Falcons Head Coach Mike Smith. "He is the type of player we are looking for to help build our football team. I'm excited that he is joining the Atlanta Falcons."

Turner was San Diego's final unrestricted free agent. Earlier this week, backup quarterback Billy Volek signed a three-year deal to return to the Chargers. On Saturday, cornerback Drayton Florence agreed to terms with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

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