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Moves The Falcons Will Not Make: Trading Michael Turner

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The second in our occasional series of moves the Atlanta Falcons will not make. Today, it's a trade of running back Michael Turner.

Look, I've indulged in this one, too.

On paper, trading Michael Turner now would accomplish many things. It would net the Falcons young players or draft picks, both of which they could use. It would ensure that he was not in Atlanta when the inevitability of being a 30-year-old running back who runs like a battering ram and physically resembles one finally catches up with him. It would allow the Falcons to more easily turn the corner from the smash n' more smash offense they've skillfully run for four years to the pass-happy attack sure to come.

It won't happen, though. The Falcons have publicly committed to Turner, he's a Mike Smith favorite and a guy who fuels the Falcons' ground game. The fact that he's starting to hit his decline phase is worrisome, and the likeliest outcome is that the Falcons let him play out his contract as a Falcon. He's meant a lot to the franchise, and as much as we all cringe thinking that might be a reason, it is a reason.

On a more official basis, here's two good reasons the Falcons won't trade him. Well, decent reasons.

  1. You can't get value for him. Running backs are quite simply not a commodity in today's NFL. When teams are digging deep and finding guys like Arian Foster and Pierre Thomas as undrafted free agents, and when more and more teams are leaning heavily on committees, teams are less willing to burn picks to get backs. When you consider that he's about 30 years old, has had noticeable second-half drop-offs the last two seasons and offers little in the way of pass-catching upside, teams simply aren't going to give up more than a fourth rounder for him, unless they're desperate. Getting a third round pick for Turner might be worth it at this point, but I doubt the FO sees it that way.

    That brings us to our next point.
  2. The team still believes in Turner. The Falcons will say they want to use Jacquizz Rodgers more, and they probably will. They will say they want to pass more, and they probably will. But if you think Michael Turner is getting less than 250 carries without a busted leg, you're insane.

    Mike Smith likes a power running back. He likes to be able to batter down defenses and make them respect the run. Turner's been his guy for four seasons and remains a load to bring down, and a guy whose booms are so awesome that it's easy to forget when he busts. Ultimately, the fact that Turner can be a true, reasonably-effective workhorse back.

    So while his role will diminish, he's an integral part of the team's plans. That won't change unless they draft a back like David Wilson come this April.

So that's why I believe Turner's here to stay in 2012. What say you?