And while some Falcons fans may be hesitant to see their beloved running back leave, the move makes sense for a number of cold reasons.
The fact is cold and hard, but a fact nonetheless—at 31 years old, Michael Turner’s best days in the NFL have come and gone.
The Burner’s numbers were strong this past year in terms of scoring, considering he found the end zone 10 times in 2012.
Turner also averaged a career-low 3.6 yards per carry, however, and is no longer an “every-down” back. The Falcons didn’t have him splitting carries all season with Jacquizz Rodgers just for kicks, they did it to protect Turner from breaking down due to an aggravated groin injury.
Releasing Turner will allow Rodgers—a young player with big potential—a chance to properly step up and fill his role.
The Falcons Are “Moving in Another Direction”
It sounds like an employer’s weak excuse not to give you a job, but the reality is, Atlanta has become a pass-first, run-later franchise with Matt Ryan at the helm.
Matty Ice eviscerated opponents through the air with chilling efficiency this season, coming in fifth in the league in passing yards with an average of 295 yards per game.
Compare that to the 87.3 rushing yards the Falcons averaged per contest, and you’ll begin to see why their need for Turner has diminished.
Perhaps the biggest reason why Atlanta should cut ties with Michael Turner is his price tag.
There are arguments to be made for why Turner has been worth his six-year, $34 million contract, but his production in 2013 will not be worth the $6.9 million they would have to pay him to stick around another year.
There are other less expensive options out there with the potential to yield similar results for Atlanta—one in particular being Texas A&M’s Christine Michael, a powerful cannonball back with a nose for the end zone.
Any way you slice it, Atlanta will probably end its working relationship with Michael Turner.
But buck up, Falcon fans—it’ll work out for the best.