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In the NFL, general managers view a first-round draft pick the way a father does his daughter: No boyfriend is good enough for her, and no available player is worth a first-round pick.

That’s why general managers around the league are gnashing their teeth as they decide whether to acquire Michael “The Burner” Turner after the Chargers placed a $2.35 million first- and third-tender on him.

If another team signs Turner to an offer sheet, the Chargers have the option of matching the offer to keep him or letting him go and gaining first- and third-round draft picks in return. They could also make a trade involving Turner that allows the Chargers to move up in the draft order.

Either way, the Chargers have netted first-round talent for a player they drafted in the fifth-round in 2004. Look at it this way:

If Turner is with the Chargers in 2007, he’s a first-round talent complementing NFL MVP LaDainian Tomlinson. Hopefully that means new head coach Norv Turner proves more creative than former offensive coordinator Cam Cameron. I’d like to see Turner on the field with LT occasionally, forcing the defense to choose between defending LT in space or Turner pounding the ball up the middle.

If Turner is with another team, Chargers general manager A.J. Smith will have gained at least a first- and third-round pick to play with, if not more. Maybe a package deal results in the Chargers moving up for a marquee player such as Georgia Tech wide receiver Calvin Johnson.

Smith, remember, is the man who fleeced the New York Giants in the Eli Manning deal that netted Philip Rivers, Nate Kaeding, Shawne Merriman and Roman Oben.

TOM SHANAHAN

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