After the good fortune of having for five years a running back as durable as canvas underwear, the Seahawks appear to be in line for karmic payback from the football gods. In hiring Eddie Lacy Tuesday, they get a guy coming off a gurney who went right to a bakery.
If the report is true from Bob McGinn, longtime reporter for the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, who tweeted that Lacy showed up at one of the three recruiting stops he made — Green Bay, Minnesota and Seattle — and weighed in at 267 pounds, that’s more than 30 pounds up from his listed weight with the Packers and seven pounds more than Seahawks DE Cliff Avril.
Or as one Twitterwit put it: Feast Mode.
For a running back who is blasting between the tackles, the added chunkage isn’t necessarily a bad thing. And whatever weight he was carrying last year as the Packers’ featured back didn’t stop him from averaging a league-high 5.1 yards per attempt in the five games before he injured an ankle severely enough to require season-ending surgery.
As with the weight issue, the ankle injury is something that can be managed. Hurt guys have come back to play well for a time, as have fat guys. What is an object of curiosity in this deal is how it will work, and what happens if it does: Do they pay to keep him?
Naturally, Pete Carroll was enthused about the attempt to restore the running game.
“He gives us a chance to add to our group a real hammer,” the Seahawks coach said Tuesday afternoon on 950 KJR sports radio. “This guy is a monster of a runner. We’ve known him through the draft process (in 2013). We want him to play big. We’re counting on him to be physical. A very good athlete who can catch the ball really well, who can run routes and has terrific hands.
“We’ll look a lot like we’ve been in the past. We’re fortunate to get him.”
Lacy agreed to a one-year deal for $5.5 million, $3 million of which is guaranteed. At 27, he’s the youngest of the three free agent backs in whom the Seahawks have interest, including Adrian Peterson, 32, who left Seahawks HQ Monday without a deal. Jamaal Charles, 30, was reported to be still on the Seahawks’ interview list this week even after the signing of Lacy.
Because of injury, Peterson barely played for the Vikings in 2016, and Charles has been out of the Chiefs backfield for two seasons. So Lacy figures to have more tread and more upside. But all three are damaged goods, which is why they are available at a price well below the talents they revealed in their primes.
“We’ve got a real plan for this, or we wouldn’t have done it,” Carroll said. “He’s big. We’re going to get him at exactly the right (weight). We’ve talked to him about it. We’ll get him in great shape, get him durable and tough, like he knows how to be.
“He came out (of Alabama) at 235. and played bigger than that over the years. We’ve worked with the people in Alabama to understand what’s happened in the past.”
The Seahawks obviously think that a diet of salmon, kale and blueberries will work wonders for Lacy, who likely fell passionately for Wisconsin’s favored delicacies of cheese curds, brats and Miller by the keg. And as with LT Luke Joeckel, whom the Seahawks also signed off the discard pile when free agency commenced, for a guaranteed $7 million, he had to have passed the physical exam after major surgery.
But in year two of the Quest to Replace Marshawn Lynch, the path remains as unclear as it it was in year one.
Mass injuries to the running back position caused the Seahawks to have 18 players with at least one carry. The leading rusher was, at 469 yards, Christine Michael, who was cut and ended up filling in with Green Bay. The two primary returnees are Thomas Rawls (349 yards) and rookie C.J. Prosise (172), paltry numbers that explain how the Seahawks finished 25th in the NFL in rushing after years of dominance.
Carroll all but promised a return to past ground glory, even if all three think they should be the featured back.
“We’ll figure it out in time — none of us are worried at all about that,” he said. “We’re happy to have another real physical big guy. I would expect the ability to go back and forth with Eddie and Thomas really gives us a physical attack. We know C.J. can do all kinds of stuff, and break one on early downs too.”
Carroll claims Lacy has, well, the mark of the Beast.
“There’s a lot of similarities because they’re tackle-breakers,” he said of the comparisons to Lynch’s ferocity. “They make people miss because of their physicality. He also has really good feet. He can juke you in the hole, and break you down in the open field too. They’re very similar.
“I want to make sure that everyone who plays us has to get ready for a hard-nosed football game at the line of scrimmage.”
Speaking of the line of scrimmage, Carroll offered his first public words about Joeckel, who received a startling $7 million guaranteed for a year, despite being regarded as something of a four-year bust in Jacksonville. His former coach, ex-Seahawks coordinator Gus Bradley, gave to Carroll a strong endorsement.
“Gus was really impressed with his work habits, his smarts and toughness,” he said. “We were very fortunate to get him.
“I see him as a left tackle who can play left guard. That’s fantastic flexibility for us. We would hope to sign him to a long-term deal. He’s 26, we’d like to keep him around a long time.”
In case you were wondering, Carroll actually knows the line played poorly last season because, as GM John Schneider said, it was too young.
“We were the youngest in the NFL, in terms of games started,” he said. “There’s all kinds of potential. We’re very athletic. These guys can play. (But) the experience we lacked does enter into their play, particularly when we had to throw more last year. This was the least balanced in the years we’ve been here. We want to get back to (run/pass balance) as soon as we can.
“Over the years, we’ve continued to play with inexperienced lines. It makes it hard on these guys. We’re trying to maintain continuity so they can grow together.”
The Seahawks just forked over to two players a guaranteed $10 million for 2017 to toward that idea. Or nearly what Lynch earned by himself in his final season. A hard guy to replace.