So the Seattle Seahawks have signed veteran running back Edgerrin James.
This is a move that was somewhat unexpected, but wasn’t a complete surprise after watching the running backs struggle early.
James, 31 years old, was released by the Arizona Cardinals after they drafted Chris Wells in April. James lost carries to Tim Hightower last season and became expendable as the Cardinals developed more depth at the position.
Last season, James rushed the ball 133 times with an average of 3.9 yards per carry. He has nearly 3,000 attempts rushing in his career that dates back to 1999.
This addition means that the front office wasn’t confident in the current roster’s running backs, and has since resulted in the departure of T.J. Duckett. We knew that the signing either meant Duckett was on his way out, or Julius Jones’ leg injury was more serious than advertised.
Fortunately, it wasn’t the latter.
Julius Jones returned to practice today, and T.J. Duckett was a no-show.
T.J. Duckett has been effective as a short-yardage specialist during his time in Seattle. He had the opportunity this year to increase his carries as the second back, but hasn’t looked effective during his time on the field. After James signed, it was obvious that Duckett was on his way out; his contract doesn’t equate to a running back buried on the depth chart, and he won’t contribute any on special teams.
Although James is older, I think he is an obvious upgrade over what we’ve seen of Duckett so far this year. Duckett may be missed on third-and-short or in goal line situations, but it was obvious he is unable of effectively carrying the ball more than 100 times anymore (like he did for Jim Mora in Atlanta).
James enters an ideal situation in Seattle, even though the offensive line is struggling through injuries. He’ll have to opportunity to contribute and should remain effective while sharing the load with Jones and Forsett.
The Seahawks are still missing a true playmaker, but Edgerrin James, for now, is an upgrade over T.J. Duckett. The Seahawks will have to eventually get younger at the position, and will probably look hard at the 2010 NFL Draft to add a running back. For 2009, however, this is about as good as it’ll get.