Not much has gone to plan for the Atlanta Falcons since the final month of the 2006 season or so, but you can't fault their execution in the pursuit and acquisition of free-agent running back
The Falcons long ago identified Turner as their No. 1 priority in free agency, and when the NFL's annual personnel shopping season opened Friday, Atlanta sprung into action. This time, the Falcons had much better luck than when they went after their top candidates in their recent general manager and head coaching searches.
In what might approach the league record for the longest free-agent visit ever, Turner hit town on Friday, took in a Georgia Force Arena Football League game on Saturday, and was wined and dined at one of Atlanta's best restaurants Saturday night by Falcons owner
This time, the Falcons didn't get turned down, the way
According to a Falcons source I spoke with Sunday afternoon, Blank put the full-court press on Turner, taking him to a five-star restaurant for a Saturday night dinner that was attended by new general manager
Turner was one of the bigger prizes in this year's rather shallow pool of free agents, and while almost $6 million a year is an astounding price to pay for a career backup, sometimes the crying need to generate a bit of good news, and a little hope among your fan base really does create a special set of circumstances. Sometimes there is a good enough reason to over-spend, especially if the player has as much talent and potential as Turner.
If ever there was a team in need of a little hope these days, it's these Falcons, who have seen a drought of near Biblical proportions when it comes to news that their fans can use. In a January phone conversation I had with Blank, I mentioned how eager he must have been to turn the calendar page on 2007 and get the new year started.
"Whatever happens in 2008, it can't possibly be worse,'' Blank said. "There's no way it ever could."
Turner's signing, and the Falcons last week winning the coin flip with Oakland for the No. 3 spot in the draft, might portend that Atlanta's horrible run of luck (and in some cases, short-sighted decision making) has bottomed out. I'm high on the guy who served as
Turner's speed and explosiveness should be a great fit for the fast track of the Georgia Dome, and due to his four years of limited activity behind L.T., the Falcons are getting a 26-year-old with much less wear and tear on him than your average fifth-year NFL running back. With Turner, Atlanta might just have a shot of getting all six of his contract's years out of him, at what in time could wind up being a relative bargain salary.
Turner and speed-back
No one should get carried away and forget that the Falcons still need to solve their quarterback problems in order for the Turner signing to be anything other than a band-aid applied to their offense. But if passing help arrives via the draft, either at the No. 3 pick or in the second or third round, Atlanta fans will at least begin to see the outline of a path back to respectability.
Who knows exactly what move will be the one that sparks a Falcons turnaround? But landing Turner -- their No. 1 objective in free agency -- means that Atlanta didn't have to settle for its second choice this time.
• OK, raise your hand if you've been saying all along that Bears receiver
What in the name of
Either Briggs' reputation within the league isn't as glowing as he was led to believe -- and he did sound a lot like a "me'' guy the past two years -- or there apparently weren't many teams that had the need or the desire to throw a ton of money at their linebacker depth chart this year. As for the Vikings' deal with Berrian, that was just their desperation for a starting receiver, and their desire to weaken a division rival in the process.
• The most ridiculous storyline I heard all weekend was the idea that
Who exactly is Culpepper going to be a candidate to start for in 2008? Once he signs with someone, Culpepper is going to be playing for his fourth different team in four years: Minnesota in 2005, Miami in 2006, Oakland in 2007, and who knows where in 2008?
Whatever team that might need him in their mix at quarterback probably isn't going to wind up being one of the favorites to challenge for the Super Bowl next season. And even if you believe that Moss is open to leaving New England -- and I absolutely don't -- it's a huge stretch to see him joining some club that isn't deemed one of the top five more serious Super Bowl contenders in the league.
Talk about your scenario that doesn't pass the sniff test.
• Here's a bit more on Moss: To use one of
Who does that leave? One team that might have been a suitor can already be crossed off the list: Jacksonville. The Jaguars signed a different ex-Raider, giving $5 million a year for six years to
Philly won't do it because the memories of the T.O. fiasco are too fresh. If there's a team that might swing it, and that Moss would play for, it may well be the Packers. But only if
• Quarterbacks don't even get to free agency much any more, and when they do, they're certainly not jumping teams much. Cleveland re-signed
• I'm not saying
• Giants fans have a right to be unhappy about losing safety
• One of the underrated moves this weekend was New Orleans signing ex-Patriots cornerback
• I'm surprised the Patriots didn't make more of an effort to keep receiver
• I have great respect for Bills head coach