Coveted Chargers tailback Turner to stay in San Diego
The 2007 draft is history and so, apparently, are all trade discussions involving San Diego tailback Michael Turner, the much coveted backup to LaDainian Tomlinson and the subject of considerable trade talks for the past two months.
|San Diego general manager A.J. Smith told ESPN Radio's Colin Cowherd that the Chargers have decided to keep running back Michael Turner. Listen|
General manager A.J. Smith, who entertained offers for Turner during the weekend draft but apparently found no suitor willing to meet his asking price, said the three-year veteran will be with the Chargers for this season -- even if that means Turner could depart San Diego as an unrestricted free agent next spring, with the Chargers netting just a compensatory pick in return.
"My message to the other clubs is, 'Even in minicamp when people get hurt, even in training camp when people get hurt and even during the regular season when running backs get hurt, don't call us [about Turner].' He's not available. He's a San Diego Charger. All parties are happy, so that's it," Smith said.
San Diego could still send Turner to another team, up until the October trade deadline, but the tough-talking Smith is characteristically not given to posturing. So the strong likelihood is that the Chargers will, indeed, retain Turner through the season.
The Chargers did their best to trade halfback Michael Turner, using every bit of leverage they could to get the Titans to offer more, writes John Clayton. Blog
Last week, Turner signed his restricted free-agent qualifying offer, a one-year deal worth $2.35 million. That action could technically facilitate a trade, since no player can be dealt unless he is under contract, but it appears Turner will play under the one-year contract. Barring an extension with the Chargers, he would then become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the '07 season.
In Turner's contract, the Chargers used the highest level to provide themselves a right of first refusal had Turner signed an offer sheet with another franchise during the restricted free-agency period. Had another team signed Turner and San Diego declined to match the deal, the Chargers would have received first- and third-round draft picks as compensation.
San Diego Chargers
That high compensatory price tag scared off several franchises that might otherwise have been interested in signing Turner to an offer sheet.
Turner, 25, has carried 157 times for 941 yards and five touchdowns in his career and last season logged career bests in rushes (80) and yards (502). Despite starting just one game in three seasons, the former Northern Illinois standout, a fifth-round pick in the 2004 draft, is regarded as a back who would be an impact player as a starter.
As a restricted free agent this spring, Turner visited with team officials from Tennessee and Buffalo, and both franchises were involved in trade talks with Smith. The San Diego general manager said that, in all, there were six suitors interested in Turner. There was speculation that at least one team offered Smith a 2008 first-round pick for Turner, but that was never substantiated and is now apparently moot.
Smith said he has contacted several of the teams interested in Turner to apprise them that there will be no more trade discussions. Some others, he suggested, will simply get the message on the NFL grapevine.
"I'm sure the rest of the clubs will realize, don't call, we're done," he said.
Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.