NFL Notebook

Backup Turner steps to fore with Falcons

MICHAEL TURNER Gives Falcons 1-2 punch MICHAEL TURNER Gives Falcons 1-2 punch
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Associated Press / March 3, 2008

Michael Turner, considered perhaps the top running back available in free agency, agreed to a six-year deal with the Atlanta Falcons yesterday.

Turner said he was won over by the Falcons' aggressive efforts.

"It was really the whole organization and what they're trying to do," Turner said. "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 and a representative of his agent, James "Bus" Cook, wouldn't confirm an report that his contract with Atlanta is for $34.5 million, with approximately $15 million guaranteed.

A four-year veteran who has been best known as LaDainian Tomlinson's backup in San Diego, Turner is expected to play a more important role with the Falcons. He is projected as the power complement to speed back Jerious Norwood.

The addition of Turner likely signals the end of Warrick Dunn's time as the starter.

Turner (5 feet 10 inches, 237 pounds) has 228 carries for 1,257 yards and six touchdowns in four seasons with San Diego. He also has three of the longest 11 carries in team history - 83, 74, and 73 yards. He has averaged 5.5 yards per carry in his career.

"We are pleased to be able to add a very talented running back and a player who has produced at a high level in this league when given the opportunity," general manager Thomas Dimitroff said. "We think he's ready to take the next step and have a more prominent role in an offense, and we are happy he decided that opportunity is going to be here in Atlanta."

The Falcons also agreed to terms with tight end Ben Hartsock. The four-year veteran had 12 catches for 138 yards with the Tennessee Titans last season.

Saints add pass rusher McCray

Defensive end Bobby McCray, who spent the past four seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars, agreed to a five-year contract with the New Orleans Saints. Financial terms were not disclosed. McCray has 94 tackles, 22 sacks, and 7 forced fumbles in 61 regular-season games. He had a career-high 10 sacks in 2006. The Saints also announced running back Aaron Stecker, who rushed for a career-high 448 yards last season, agreed to re-sign with the team. Terms were not released . . . The Titans have reached agreement with former Falcons tight end Alge Crumpler on a two-year contract, reported.

FBI looked at McGee's gambling

Hard-partying Green Bay Packers receiver Max McGee, who scored the first touchdown in Super Bowl history, had a gambling habit that the FBI tracked after his career ended, newly released records show.

Agents investigated McGee for about a year, from late 1972 through September 1973, before dropping the case for lack of evidence, according to records released to the Associated Press under the federal Freedom of Information Act.

Information in the late player's file appears to show the FBI thought he was a bookmaker but determined he wasn't, said I. Nelson Rose, a professor at Whittier Law School in Costa Mesa, Calif.

Given that there are no federal laws against making a bet, the FBI wouldn't have had anything to charge McGee with, Rose said.

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said he did not know about the FBI's probe of McGee.

McGee was beloved by Packers fans not only for his play, but also for his lifestyle and his years as the team's radio announcer. He died in October at age 75 when he fell while clearing leaves off the roof of his Minneapolis home.

Quinn not holding back

Browns quarterback Brady Quinn expects to compete for the starting job despite Derek Anderson's $24 million, three-year contract.

"My whole goal is preparing myself and getting ready to try to take over the starting job and lead this team," Quinn said.

Anderson agreed to his new deal Friday, a move that took him off the restricted free agent market. General manager Phil Savage says Anderson is the clear starter entering training camp.

Quinn understands the situation, but isn't any less determined. His mind-set is "just competing and try to take this team to the playoffs, something we weren't able to do last year."

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