Turner agrees to 6-year deal with Falcons, capping busy opening weekend of NFL free agency Print
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Monday, 03 March 2008 01:57
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 Michael Turner was best known as LaDainian Tomlinson's backup for four years in San Diego. He's heading to Atlanta to become a main man.
Turner agreed to a six-year deal with the Falcons on Sunday, capping a busy opening weekend of the NFL's free-agent period. Turner is projected as the power complement to speed back Jerious Norwood.
``It was really the whole organization and what they're trying to do,'' Turner told The Associated Press on Sunday when asked what influenced his decision. ``Everybody is fresh with a clean slate and trying to build things back up. ... I did not come into the visit expecting to sign so soon. I didn't know what to expect.''
Turner said a factor in his decision was new Falcons coach Mike Smith's experience as a defensive coordinator with Jacksonville, where the Jaguars had success with tailbacks Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew sharing the carries.
``It will be interesting with a combo-type thing,'' Turner said. ``Coach Smith from Jacksonville knows how that works, so hopefully it will be a good thing.''
Turner's signing likely signals the end of Warrick Dunn's time with the Falcons. Turner had 228 carries for 1,257 yards and six touchdowns with San Diego. He also had three of the longest 11 carries in team history - 83, 74 and 73 yards.
The Falcons also moved quickly to replace tight end Alge Crumpler by agreeing to terms with free agent Ben Hartsock. They also signed defensive backs Erik Coleman and Von Hutchins on Saturday and re-signed quarterback Chris Redman, who finished last season as the starter.
New Orleans was busy Sunday, signing cornerback Randall Gay, who spent the past four years with New England, to a four-year contract worth up to $17.6 million and Bobby McCray, a free-agent defensive end who spent the past four seasons with Jacksonville, to a five-year deal. The Saints also re-signed Aaron Stecker, who rushed for a career-high 448 yards last season.
On Saturday, the Saints re-signed wide receiver Devery Henderson and terminated linebacker Brian Simmons' contract.
There was plenty of player movement Saturday, highlighted by the New York Jets signing Pro Bowl guard Alan Faneca to a five-year, $40 million deal - making the former Pittsburgh player the highest-paid offensive lineman in the NFL.
The Jets also acquired three-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Kris Jenkins from Carolina on Friday, and traded linebacker Jonathan Vilma to New Orleans for a draft pick.
Buffalo acquired Marcus Stroud, a three-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle, in a trade with Jacksonville for undisclosed draft picks. Detroit also completed a trade that sent defensive tackle Shaun Rogers to Cleveland for cornerback Leigh Bodden and a third-round pick in April. The deal was announced Saturday, a day after a trade with Cincinnati fell through that would have sent Rogers to the Bengals for third- and fifth-round picks.
In other signings Saturday:
-San Francisco signed free-agent defensive end Justin Smith, the No. 4 overall pick by Cincinnati in 2001 for six years and $45 million.
-Minnesota reached an agreement on a six-year contract with Bernard Berrian, the receiver who had a career-high 71 catches for 951 yards and five touchdowns for Chicago last year.
-Linebacker Lance Briggs re-signed with the Chicago Bears, agreeing to a six-year deal.
-Pro Bowl safety John Lynch took a pay cut to remain with Denver, agreeing to a one-year deal.
-Cleveland added another prime target for newly re-signed quarterback Derek Anderson, agreeing with Donte' Stallworth on a seven-year contract. Last season with New England, Stallworth had 46 receptions for 697 yards and three touchdowns.
-Philadelphia signed free-agent defensive end Chris Clemons to a five-year contract, a day after signing All-Pro cornerback Asante Samuel to a six-year deal.
-Miami signed free-agent linebacker Reggie Torbor, agreeing to a four-year deal with the former New York Giants player. The Dolphins also signed linebacker Charlie Anderson to a three-year deal, and agreed to five-year deals with defensive tackle Randy Starks and guard Justin Smiley.
On Friday, the start of free agency, Samuel, wide receiver Isaac Bruce (San Francisco), wide receiver Ernest Wilford (Miami) and center Jeff Faine (Tampa Bay) were just a few of the big-name players to change teams.
The New York Giants also lost two key defensive players from their championship team: linebacker Kawika Mitchell (Buffalo) and safety Gibril Wilson (Oakland).
A number of major free agents remained unsigned, including: wide receivers Randy Moss, D.J. Hackett and Bryant Johnson; running backs Julius Jones; linebacker Calvin Pace; and offensive linemen Larry Allen and Damien Woody.

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