Is it possible that lightening could literally strike twice for the Atlanta Falcons? Reports are that the San Diego Chargers are not looking to resign backup running back Mike Tolbert. Tolbert has been an extremely productive backup for the Bolts as a receiver out of the backfield, on special teams and as a short yardage runner.
San Diego may envision Tolbert receiving a deal like the one Michael Turner received when he left the organization four years ago to sign with Atlanta. The Falcons signed the 5’10” 247-pound Turner to a 6-year, $34.5 million deal back in 2008. Before that Turner had spent four years as a backup in San Diego.
Which is where Tolbert is at now in his career. Tolbert becomes a free agent after spending the last four years backing up LaDainian Tomlinson and Ryan Matthews in San Diego. He has a similar build to Turner at 5’9” and 243 pounds, but he was actually a little more productive than Turner was his four years as a Charger.
Tolbert had 54 receptions last year alone which is three more receptions than Turner has had the entire eight years he has been in the league. Tolbert’s receiving numbers were virtually the same as the numbers Darren Sproles put up his last two years in San Diego before Sproles joined the New Orleans Saints last season.
Turner’s average yards-per-carry as a member of the Chargers was better than Tolbert’s but Tolbert scored way more than Turner did his first four years in the league. Turner has scored double-digit touchdowns every season he has been in Atlanta but he only scored six touchdowns total his four years in San Diego. Tolbert already has 20 rushing touchdowns and six touchdown receptions as a backup for the Bolts with eleven of those rushing touchdowns coming in one season.
There’s one more thing that Tolbert has in common with Turner. When Turner has rushed for over 100 yards his teams usually win and that was also true for Tolbert. Although Tolbert only has three 100-yard games to his credit, the Chargers did win all three games which has to count for something.
It also doesn’t hurt that Tolbert grew up in Douglasville, GA which could make Atlanta an attractive destination for him. In return he could help Atlanta with a few of its running back issues.
Jason Snelling backed up Turner last year but he is a free agent and Jacquizz Rodgers who the Falcons drafted last season is a little on the small side. Rodgers is more of a change-of-pace back but he wouldn't be very effective if Turner was lost to injury.
Turner has had a lot of carries over the past four years and turned 30 last month. He is at that time in his career when a running back’s skills start to erode and their bodies start to break down more which may be another reason to bring in Tolbert.
Turner is under contract for two more years at $5 million for this season and $5.5 million next season plus he receives a $2.5 million bonus each season. With that much money still owed to Turner, Tolbert would give the Falcons another option in case Turner has a major decline and the Falcons need to shed his contract.
Although the Falcons have a lot of free agents they want to resign, bringing in Tolbert is a good idea if they are able to sign him. They’ve gotten tons of production out of the last running back they signed out of San Diego and with the current options available behind Turner it may be time to see if history can repeat itself for the Falcons.
Roosevelt Hall is an NFL Blogger for The Sport Mentalist and also writes for both The Penalty Flag and Outside The Redzone. He can be contacted at RHall_TPFB@Yahoo.com. Follow him on Twitter @sportmentalist and add him on Facebook Roosevelt Hall Thesportmentalist.