Lately such websites have been flooded with rumors that Green Bay is interested in San Diego restricted free agent running back Michael Turner. But a couple days later, Turner's agent ‘Bus' Cook indicated the Packers weren't pursuing Burner Turner, who is being courted heavily by Tennessee and Buffalo.
The Chargers set the restricted free agent's price tag bizarrely high, demanding first- and third-round picks as compensation, not to mention the hefty pay day Turner would expect at a new location. But a trade is negotiable. After staying silent in free agency, Green Bay has more than enough dough to accommodate Turner. If the Titans snag Turner, though, Chris Brown would become the free agent front-runner for the green and gold.
It's time for Ted Thompson to play ball.
You can't even compare Turner and Brown. Would you rather purchase a Ferrari with only 50 miles on it, or a cheap beat-up Ford pickup that's seen the Auto Body shop more than the highway? Turner has maximized every opportunity thrown his way, while the latter has been sidelined in 27 games over the past three seasons.
Backing up NFL MVP LaDainian Tomlinson, Turner has improved in each of his three seasons. Last year he rushed for 502 yards and a scary 6.3 average. Turner busted loose for a 20-plus yard gain seven times in only 80 carries. Ahman Green only mustered three such runs on 266 carries. And Chris Brown? Once on 41 carries in an injury-plagued 2006 season.
Vernand Morency may be starter-worthy as head coach Mike McCarthy insists. But what's wrong with two explosive backs? As Dumb and Dumber's Lloyd Christmas said, ‘We're in the Rockies.'
It's time to strap on an extra pair of gloves, Ted. A Turner-Morency combo immediately creates a power shift in the NFC North's rushing attacks since Chicago dealt Thomas Jones to the New York Jets. McCarthy has preached a smashmouth mentality from Day 1. Here's his chance to establish the most feared arsenal of backs in the NFC North.
Thompson would have to abandon his M.O. of nurturing draft picks, but for Green Bay to become elite Thompson must occasionally stray from his comfort zone, i.e., splurging on Charles Woodson last year. Acquiring Turner is an opportunity he can't refuse. Before Cook's comments, a handful of online rumors stated that Green Bay and San Diego were considering swapping first- and third-round draft picks, which would bump the Packers down 14 slots. Big deal. Turner is worth the 16th pick straight up, where Marshawn Lynch is universally slotted to go.
Turner has proven he's ready to be an NFL starter. What has Marshawn Lynch accomplished? Well, he was accused of choking and slapping his girlfriend, covering her mouth and forcing sexual activity. Maybe his talent is overwhelming, but if Thompson bypasses Randy Moss because of character issues he should also avoid Lynch.
Remember when Larry Johnson was stuck behind Priest Holmes? Shaun Alexander behind Ricky Watters? Steven Jackson behind Marshall Faulk? All three current stars were forced to earn a starting gig from established Pro Bowlers. Playing in spots drilled them to take full advantage of each and every one of their carries. Opportunistic mindsets resulted. Only fed late game appetizers, Turner has grown a chip on his shoulder.
"I prepare myself as a starter each week," he said. "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."
Turner has been teased with five carries a game for three seasons now. Unlike a roll-of-the-dice rookie, an immediate impact is almost guaranteed from Turner. His game is bred for the zone blocking scheme. Whereas the upright Brown gallops without punch, the squatty Turner instinctively makes sudden cuts, and bursts into the open with a purpose.
It's not too late for Thompson to make a hard push. The Packers' weapon-starved offense cannot enter training camp with their current lineup. To get to the next level, Thompson must take a risk even if it takes draft picks and a multimillion dollar contract.
For over a month, Green Bay has wisely shied away from overspending on mediocrity. Gradually however, the talent has thinned. When you see Kevan Barlow atop a running back availability list, you know the cupboard has been picked bone dry.
But Turner is the real deal. Somebody very soon will capitalize on the NFL's next can't-miss back. Thompson should rejoin the Burner Turner Sweepstakes before it's too late ... by any means necessary.
Editor's note: Tyler Dunne is a student at St. John Fisher College in Rochester, N.Y. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.