The new league year begins next month, and with it comes the start of the free agency period in the NFL. The Colts have several guys who will become free agents at that point, but there may be some of them worth re-signing. We’ll be taking a look at each one of them and discussing whether it would be a good idea for the Colts to bring them back or not. We continue today with Robert Turbin.
Last offseason saw the Colts looking for a backup running back to play behind Frank Gore, and they found one in Robert Turbin. He played in 15 games this year and though he only rushed 47 times, he gained 164 yards and scored seven touchdowns, averaging 3.5 yards per carry, while he also caught 26 passes for 179 yards and a score. Combined, he totaled 343 yards and eight touchdowns this year as the team’s backup. Though there were 78 players in the league who received more carries than him and 83 who gained more yards than him, only 14 scored more rushing touchdowns. Furthermore, of those players with at least 20 carries on the season, only Texans quarterback Brock Osweiler (43.3%) had a higher percentage of his carries go for first downs, as Turbin gained a first down on 42.6% of his carries. The next-closest running back? Buffalo’s Mike Gillislee (38.6%).
Turbin proved crucial in an area where the Colts had struggled in 2015, as he was a very good short-yardage and goal-line back. That was an important addition to the offense, so even though he didn’t play a ton, he made the most of his opportunities.
He’s already expressed a desire to return to the Colts to try to help them win a title, but do the Colts want him back? It’s likely that this offseason they’ll be looking to add a young running back to be the long-term guy once Gore is gone (which will likely be after 2017), so Turbin might wind up being the number three back if he is re-signed. Even if that’s the case, however, he could still be used in short-yardage and goal-line situations, which is where he was most effective last year anyway.
Considering the fact that Turbin likely won’t command a big contract, it makes a lot of sense for the Colts to bring him back. It won’t be clear exactly what his role will be until we see how the draft goes, but regardless he should be able to fit in as at least a situational back. He was productive-enough in 2016 that I think he’s worth bringing back.