San Diego Chargers Free Agency 2011: Norv Turner Wants Darren Sproles Back

Chris EggemeyerCorrespondent IMay 4, 2011

SAN DIEGO, CA - DECEMBER 16:  Running Back Darren Sproles #43 of the San Diego Chargers stands on the field prior to playing against the San Francisco 49ers at Qualcomm Stadium on December 16, 2010 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

The San Diego Union Tribune reported today that San Diego Chargers head coach Norv Turner has told reporters that he is interested in bringing Darren Sproles, the Chargers' electrifying return man, back to the team in 2011.

Set to become a free agent, most expected Darren Sproles to move on to greener pastures during the offseason (though free agency has been clouded by the volatile labor situation that has emerged in the absence of a Collective Bargaining Agreement) after the Chargers opted to use their 2011 franchise tag tender on wide receiver Vincent Jackson.

As if his declining numbers and lack of contract weren't enough, San Diego also, in effect, said goodbye to the running back over the course of last weekend's 2011 NFL Draft when they selected a potential return man replacement (Marcus Gilchrist) as well as a running back to fill the hole in the depth chart. (Jordan Todman).

So then, what is the logic behind Norv Turner's apparent desire to bring back Darren Sproles?

Well, first, let's do a little situation-breakdown.

First off, here are some depth chart projections for where Sproles will likely fit in:

Running Back

1. Ryan Mathews

2. Mike Tolbert

3. Sproles or Todman

4. Sproles or Todman

Return Man:

1. Sproles or Gilchrist

2. Sproles or Gilchrist

3. Antoine Cason

Scat Back:

1. Sproles or Todman

2. Sproles or Todman

I would give an edge to Sproles in the scat back category, since he's already proven his worth as a good outside runner and a great screen-pass player. But return man is a tossup, considering Sproles' issues on special teams last year.

Ultimately, then, there really only seems to be one, maybe two, solid spots for Sproles on the team in 2011, and they are role-playing positions at best. At the kind of money he will likely be asking for (remember, the Chargers needed to franchise tag him last year because of an inability to reach a deal on a long-term contract), it's hard to see him coming back from this point of view.

That having been said, the key to the logic has to be in the unspecified length of time in Norv Turner's statement.

Should Sproles return only for one or two years, things figure out to run fairly smoothly. Jordan Todman will likely be bumped down to the practice squad (or perhaps retained should Mike Tolbert move exclusively back to fullback), putting Darren Sproles back in his place in the rotation. The continuity that that would provide would be a huge aid for the Chargers, who ranked at the very top in total offense in 2011.

This'll be a story worth keeping your eyes on, folks, because a change in decision on Darren Sproles could have a significant impact on how the rest of the offseason roster changes unfold for the San Diego Chargers.

Confused about this statement too? Share your comments about what the Chargers should do with Darren Sproles in the comments section.