With Lacy, the Seahawks get a flashy name that has been everything from overwhelming to overweight. Was this a blockbuster move? No. But it was a low-risk step in the right direction for a backfield in need of depth.
The Seahawks didn’t morph into the Super Bowl favorites Tuesday, but they did get better.
Seattle didn’t revitalize its roster with a game-changing acquisition, but it did get deeper.
If your optimism level heading into next season was an 8 out of 10, feel free to bump it up to an 8.5. Or, if you were ready to close the door on this team’s championship chances, temporarily take your hand off the knob.
On Tuesday morning, former Pro Bowl running back Eddie Lacy signed a one-year, $5.5 million contract with the Seahawks that comes with $3 million guaranteed. The roster move comes nearly five months after an ankle injury ended the 26-year-old’s season with the Packers.
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With Lacy, the Seahawks get a flashy name that has been everything from overwhelming to overweight. Was this a blockbuster move? No. But it was a smart one.
Part of the reason Seattle struggled in 2016 (by Seahawks standards, at least) was because its identity so often played hooky on game day. After four consecutive seasons of being one of the NFL’s top four running teams, the Hawks were 25th in rushing and 24th in yards per carry.
A team such as Seattle not establishing the run is like a pitcher falling behind in the count. All the leverage goes to the opponent, which leads to things not ending so well.
Much of the ground-game trouble was due to an offensive line Pro Football Focus ranked as the worst in the league. But injuries to running backs Thomas Rawls (who was inconsistent when healthy) and C.J. Prosise left holes their backups couldn’t fill. So you’d see the Seahawks rush for 67 yards in a six-point loss one game, 52 yards in a 6-6 tie another game and 78 yards in a three-point loss a few games after that.
Seattle can’t win without the run any more than the Warriors can’t win without the three. But with Lacy …
Well, who knows. On one hand, he was the Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2013, when he tallied 1,178 rushing yards, 257 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns en route to the Pro Bowl. On the other hand, he ballooned to more than 255 pounds in 2015, when he managed just 758 yards and three touchdowns.
Lacy appeared to have returned to top form last season, gaining a career-high 5.1 yards per carry through five games. But an October surgery on his sprained ankle — which had two screws, two wires and a plate inserted into it — sullied whatever success he had. What’s next is as mysterious to his new teammates as it is to fans.
In a best-case scenario, Lacy’s power provides an ideal complement to Rawls’ speed. Lacy ranked sixth in the NFL in yards after contact in 2013, fifth in 2014 and was on pace for his best showing yet in that category before his surgery last year.
In a next-best-case scenario, Lacy is a serviceable addition who provides depth to a tenuous backfield. Lord knows the Seahawks could use that.
And in a worst-case scenario, Lacy is a washed-up non-factor destined for release. No biggie. The Seahawks signed him to only a one-year deal. Doesn’t mean it was a risk-free inking — you could argue $5.5 million was a little steep — but it was low-risk enough that it wouldn’t sink the Seahawks if he underperforms.
This has been the Seahawks’ approach to free agency lately. They offer one- to two-year deals that might pay off but won’t hamstring the franchise if they don’t.
In other words — smart.
The Seahawks’ core is still talented and young enough to keep them in contention for the ultimate NFL prize. Deficiencies remain, but they always will on teams with so many well-compensated stars.
Seattle wasn’t the Super Bowl favorite before signing Lacy, but the consensus was that it still had a good chance to win. On Tuesday morning, though moderately, those chances improved.