What should we expect from Edgerrin James in Seattle? If history is any indicator, we shouldn’t expect much. James is 31 years old and entering his eleventh season in the National Football League.
The Seattle Seahawks brought in James to revive a rather stale running game and released the ineffective T.J. Duckett. But how effective will James be in Seattle? Does James have enough left to restore a running threat that has been pretty nonexistent since 2005?
No, probably not.
Fortunately, most fans in Seattle aren’t expecting James to make a huge impact. He’ll help, but only in a complementary role to starter Julius James. If this team expects to win this season, they’ll likely have to depend on offense through the air and solid defense.
Edgerrin James’ best days are obviously behind him. He has rushed for 12,121 yards and 80 touchdowns in his career, but saw limited action last season in Arizona. With the Cardinals, James lost carries to rookie running back Tim Hightower and finished with only 514 yards on 133 carries.
So many times before, running backs have ended their careers in new places on bad notes. In a new uniform, each player has been a mere shadow of their former self. Will that describe James’ effectiveness in 2009?
After thirteen seasons with the Cowboys that included three Super Bowl championships, Emmitt Smith left Dallas for a two-year stint with the Arizona Cardinals. By the time Smith arrived in Arizona, he was already the all-time leading rusher in NFL history.
In two years with Arizona, Smith started 20 games and rushed for 1,193 yards and 11 touchdowns. He averaged only 3.3 yards per carry with the Cardinals, compared to a 4.2 yard average in Dallas.
Eddie George won the NFL Rookie of the Year award and made four consecutive Pro Bowls in Tennessee but was released after a sharp decline in production. He was signed by the Dallas Cowboys, who quickly found out that George was not the same player he was a few years prior.
With the Titans/Oilers, George rushed for 10,009 yards and 64 touchdowns. He didn’t miss a single start in eight seasons with the franchise. In the final season of his career with Dallas, George was limited to eight starts and only rushed for 432 yards and 4 touchdowns.
Thurman Thomas was one of the most dynamic runners of his time; he combined the threat of rushing and receiving and was truly a multi-purpose back. He helped lead the Buffalo Bills to four consecutive Super Bowls in the 90’s and was named the NFL’s Most Valuable Player in 1991. He is one of only six running backs in NFL history to have over 400 receptions and 10,000 yards rushing.
Following the 1999 season, Thomas signed with the Miami Dolphins for what would be his thirteenth and final season in the league. In November of 2000, he suffered a midseason knee injury and was forced into retirement. Thomas played in 9 games for the Dolphins, finishing with 138 yards rushing and 117 yards receiving.
There are plenty of examples to go around; several All-Pro running backs have finished their careers with unfamiliar franchises. And if history tells us anything, old age is not friendly to those who rush the football in the NFL. There are examples that go both ways, but I wouldn’t expect Edgerrin James to come to Seattle and post astonishing numbers.
In the interest of having success on the ground this season, let’s hope that James still has something left in the tank. And hopefully he’ll find relative success in a complementary role with the Seahawks.
But don’t be surprised if James struggles in what could be his final season in the NFL.