Every team goes into free agency hoping to score like the Atlanta Falcons did last year with Michael Turner. They went all-in after the LaDainian Tomlinson caddy, and Turner the Burner paid off huge. Turner rushed for 1,699 yards, scored a franchise record 17 touchdowns, and put up an All-Pro performance that would help heal the Falcons' post-Michael Vick syndrome.
This year it looks like the hot running back du-jour will be coming out of the New York Giants backfield. After becoming only the fifth duo in history where both running backs rush for over 1,000 yards, both Brandon Jacobs and Derrick Ward are free agents. But since Jacobs has been particularly vocal about returning, and he's the starter as one of the most unique physical talents in the league, the consensus is that Ward will be the man fielding offers to be next year's MIchael Turner.
Ward proved himself this season; totaling 1,400 yards of offense as a backup is a definite resume builder. And he hasn't been shy about his desire to be a starter, or more importantly, to be paid like one. As Jacobs was quoted as saying, "It is going to come down to presidents." And he's not talking about Obamas.
But while Turner had explosive speed to showcase, and a beast of a specimen like Jacobs comands obvious attention, it's unclear whether teams will distinguish Ward's productivity from his generic on-field presence. Ward is a jack-of-all-trades who may have greatly benefited from the Giants system, touted as the best in the league. The offers he receives are likely to reflect that.
Then again, if he wears a Michael Turner jersey to his meetings, he might just be able to get some GM to think they have a future All Pro running back on their hands. And who knows, after they sober up maybe they'll still be right. Stranger things have happened in free agency.