The Seahawks should pick up another running back in free agency. We found five they can afford. Five that would actually be good, too.
Cap space. The Seahawks don’t have much, as you may have heard. They’ll almost certainly make moves to increase the pitiful $13.6 million they have now, according to spotrac.com. A few cuts here (Cliff Avril, likely) and a few restructured contracts (Russell Wilson, hello) and that cap space could easily double. Which would only put Seattle $100 million behind the Cleveland Browns. Really, just check the link.
No matter how many moves the Seahawks make, the brain trust will be bargain hunting for free agents. Luckily, running back happens to be a spot where bargains abound. No, Le’Veon Bell isn’t going to be in that $5 DVD bin, but there will definitely be some talented players available at prices the Seahawks can afford.
I’m going to cheat just a bit and include one player I mentioned in a previous article on inexpensive free agents in general. We’ll get to him soon enough. Before we dive into the bargain bin, I’d like to talk a bit about philosophy.
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For a few years the Seahawks tried to get away with a cheap offensive line. If you’re going to pay most of your defense top dollar, you have to make adjustments elsewhere. Seattle saw that it wasn’t working, and started putting money back onto the offensive line last season with the moves for Dwayne Brown and Luke Joeckel. With that in mind, running back is a good place to save a buck or two. Million, that is. Alright, here they are.
Three bargain running backs for the Seahawks
Orleans Darkwa. Surely his nickname should be Duck. Darkwa is the previously mentioned player. He’s been in the league for four years, but last year was his first with any impact. He started 11 games for the New York Giants and picked up 751 yards and five touchdowns. He torched Washington for 154 yards in the last game of the season. What a show-off.
Alfred Blue. First he played behind Arian Foster, then Lamar Miller. His carries and yards have dropped for three consecutive years. That isn’t exactly a good sign; then again, he hasn’t been getting the pounding that ended Foster’s career. At 6’2″ and 223 pounds, Blue is the bruiser type that Pete Carroll loves. He’s just 26 years old, which is nice, too.
Alfred Morris. At 29, he’s practically ancient for a running back. But he never missed a start in four years with the Washington franchise. Even better, he’s been able to coast a bit as Ezekiel Elliot’s backup in Dallas. Morris averaged 4.8 yards per carry last year when he was pressed into duty during Elliot’s suspension. That probably translates to 4.0 in Seattle, but it’s still good.
Seahawks may spring for one of these higher price spreads
LeGarrette Blount. Now this cat is really old, at 31. The Super Bowl champ obviously thrives in the running back by committee scheme, as he’s only gotten more than 10 starts per season twice. In eight seasons he’s only had 1341 carries. That’s what, three Earl Campbell years? At 6’1″ and 250, he still managed to be one of the league’s most elusive runners. Just ask New England about his moves. This is the guy Eddie Lacy was supposed to be.
Jerick McKinnon. I’ll admit, McKinnon is really edging into the not-so-affordable group. Dion Lewis would be a great fit, as mentioned in another of our stellar write-ups. But Lewis clearly won’t come cheap. McKinnon has never had a clear lead role; in four years he has just 14 starts. That may help hold his contract down. Pro Football Focus sure loves him; he graded out at 83.9 overall. For reference, Le’Veon Bell was graded at 84.3. By the way, McKinnon has caught 143 passes in his four years in the league.
None of these five would likely be the lead back. I expect Chris Carson and Mike Davis will battle for that role all season long. At least, I hope so. But for the money the Seahawks have, they could do far worse. After all, Eddie Lacy is available.