The running back position saw a lot of change in 2015, and could see even more going forward depending on the team's decision regarding Marshawn Lynch.

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Of all the memories from the Seahawks’ 2015 season, one of the most enduring was the changing of the guard that began in the backfield. That led to an evolution of the offense, which went from featuring running back Marshawn Lynch to quarterback Russell Wilson.

As we continue our daily breakdown of the Seahawks’ position groups, here’s a look at an eventful season at running back:


Starter: Marshawn Lynch

Age: 29.

Snaps played: 308 (of 1,079 total).

Position review:

Contract situation: Signed through 2017.

2015 stats: 111 carries for 417 yards (3.8 average), 3 touchdowns.

Backups: Thomas Rawls

Age: 22.

Snaps played: 289.

Contract situation: Signed through 2017, can become restricted free agent in 2018.

2015 stats: 147 carries for  830 yards (5.6 average), 4 TDs.

Christine Michael

Age: 25.

Snaps played: 100.

Contract situation: Restricted free agent.

2015 Seahawks stats: 39 carries for 192 (4.9 average),  0 TDs.

Bryce Brown

Snaps played: 55.

Contract situation: Unrestricted free agent.

2015 stats: 26 carries for 72 yards (2.8), 1 TD.

Fred Jackson

Age: 34.

Snaps played: 257.

Contract situation: Unrestricted free agent.

2015 stats: 26 carries for 100 yards (3.8), 0 TDs.

2015 review

Having Christine Michael as the starting tailback for the regular-season finale and first game of the postseason wouldn’t have been a huge surprise when camp began in July.

However, path to those games — he was traded to Dallas and released, signed to Washington’s practice squad, then suddenly returned to the Seahawks — symbolizes the strange season at tailback as vividly as anything.

After going through last offseason with uncertainty about Lynch’s future, the Seahawks settled that issue for 2015 by signing him to a three-year contract extension in March that paid him $12 million for 2015.

But injuries dogged Lynch from the start, as he battled neck, hamstring, calf and back ailments in the first month of the season before suffering a sports-hernia injury in November that required surgery.

By then, Michael, who for the previous two years was considered the heir apparent to Lynch, was long gone. He was traded before the final roster cutdown to make room for Rawls, an undrafted free agent who was a pleasant surprise in training camp.
The Seahawks also released Robert Turbin, clearing the way for Rawls to be the unquestioned backup. They signed the veteran Jackson to fill Turbin’s role as a third-down, two-minute offense back.

While Lynch battled injuries — which played a key role in him averaging just 3.8 yards per carry, the worst of his Seattle career — Rawls was a revelation. He rushed for 104 yards in his third game against Chicago, 169 at Cincinnati two weeks later and a franchise-rookie-record 209 against the 49ers in November.

But when Rawls joined Lynch on the sideline because of a season-ending ankle injury in December, the Seahawks turned to Michael. He revived his career with a 102-yard outing in the season-finale win at Arizona.

Lynch returned for the playoff finale against Carolina, gaining 20 yards on six carries. It might have been the swan song to one of the most interesting careers in Seattle sports history.

Grade: A-minus. The Seahawks again were among the top rushing teams in the NFL at 141.8 yards per game and had three running backs — Lynch, Rawls and Michael — top 100 yards at least once.

Offseason objectives

The big question: What happens with Lynch? The consensus among observers is he won’t return, with the Seahawks looking to trade or, maybe more likely, release him. That would clear $6.5 million in salary-cap money.

It’s a move that would dramatically change the personality of the team on and off the field. Lynch turns 30 in April, and the injuries have begun to pile up — he played just seven regular-season games and one playoff game this year. The Seahawks have shown no hesitation in making tough roster moves.

That would pave the way for Rawls to take over as the starter, assuming he recovers fully from the broken ankle suffered Dec. 13 against the Ravens. Rawls said Monday that won’t be an issue and added that he will be ready for the start of the season.

Coach Pete Carroll said Monday that the Seahawks want to bring back Michael. Michael’s release by Dallas ended his rookie contract, which ran through 2016, and means he is a restricted free agent. The Seahawks can keep him by giving him a qualifying offer and then matching any other offer. They likely will have to pay him roughly twice what his original contract would have called for him to receive in 2016.

The Seahawks will need to add a few players for depth, and Brown would seem to be a candidate to return. Jackson, who turns 35 next month, seems less likely to return.


Starter: Will Tukuafu

Age: 32.

Snaps played: 208.

Contract situation: Unrestricted free agent.

2015 stats: 4 carries for 1 yard, (0.3 average), 1 TD.

Backup: Derrick Coleman

Age: 25.

Snaps played: 98.

Contract situation: Restricted free agent.

2015 stats: 8 carries for  32 yards (4.0 average), 0 TDs.

2015 review

Coleman began the year as the starter. But an early-season auto accident in which he suffered a concussion caused him to miss two games and allowed Tukuafu to take over for much of the rest of the season. Each was a key on special teams, particularly Coleman, whose seven special-teams tackles ranked third on the team. His 254 special-teams snaps were fifth-most despite missing two games.

Grade: B-plus. Importance on special teams helps raise the grade.

Offseason objectives

The Seahawks, one of the few NFL teams that make fullback a position of priority, likely can bring back both players fairly easily if they want.

It will be interesting to see how much the Seahawks use the fullback going forward, though, if they continue with the offensive shift seen in the second half of the season.

Up next: Tight ends.