By Matthew Asher
When the Atlanta Falcons signed Michael Turner to a six-year $34.5 million deal in 2008, they hoped he would improve upon his rushing stats when he played for the Chargers, or at least duplicate the same numbers. Now five years into the contract, it’s looking more and more like Turner’s contract was not worth his production.
Atlanta may have one of the best offenses in the league, but that’s only because of the passing game. Throughout the season, the run game has constantly been an issue. Whether this section of the game has come close to losing or being responsible for a loss doesn’t really matter. While not every Falcons game has come down to one running play, the running backs for the Falcons have constantly been under-performing.
To put this in context, this will focus on the amount of money Turner has made this year and compare it to his statistics. Turner makes $5 million this year and is the fourth highest-paid Falcon (tied with cornerback Dunta Robinson), just behind quarterback Matt Ryan, cornerback Brent Grimes (out this year due to injury) and wide receiver Roddy White.
For the record, Roddy is on pace for almost 1,500 receiving yards while Matty Ice is on pace to throw for almost 5,000 yards and 35 touchdowns with a QB rating of 102.6. Michael Turner is on pace to set his starter career-lows in touchdowns scored, rushing yards and average yards per rush.
With nine games played, Turner has made slightly more than $2.8 million. Gaining just 529 yards on the ground through those nine games, Turner makes about $5,300 per yard gained. His 140 rushes so far would give him more than $20,000 per rush attempt.
People may point out that a running back does more than just run the ball. As far as offensive stats, catching passes is the other stat of note. Taken all-purpose yards into account, Turner actually appears to have done worse. Gaining just 612 total yards of offense averages to $4,600 per yard gained and $18,750 per touch.
Of course, a running back can also be judged by his touchdowns rather than total yards. That’s a fair point, since fullbacks typically get a handful of yards on any carry, but most are in the 5-yard line. With just five total touchdowns (four rushing, one receiving), each touchdown is worth $562,500.
With Turner’s worst performance coming last week against the Saints, his one-game pay is scary. Gaining just 15 yards on 13 carries means he was paid almost $21,000 per yard gained and $24,000 per rushing attempt.
Atlanta might want to give running back Jacquizz Rodgers another look. In the past several games, Rodgers has out gained Turner in yards and overall offensive production. To date, Rodgers has made more than $261,000 of his $465,000 salary. Rodgers has so far gained 166 rushing yards on 45 attempts. This averages out to just $1,500 per yard rushed and about $5,800 per rush attempt. He’s also contributed 28 catches for 223 yards and his only touchdown of the season. With total yards taken into consideration, each yard Rodgers gains costs the Falcons $672 and each touch costs just $3,600. Just saying, Smitty might want to take a look again at Robinson.
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Matthew Asher is a freelance writer covering all things Atlanta sports related. His work can be found on Examiner.com.