While there are holes to be filled this offseason along the Seahawks’ offensive line and in their secondary, another area they could bolster is their backfield.
After drafting three running backs last year and cutting their leading rusher (Christine Michael) midway through the season, the Seahawks’ remaining tailback-back group boasts plenty of potential but little consistency.
Thomas Rawls has shown explosiveness and power and is the favorite to be Seattle’s No. 1 back next season, but he’s been limited to 22 games over his first two seasons because of injuries. Third-round pick C.J. Prosise flashed big-play ability as a rookie last year but couldn’t stay healthy, appearing in only six games, while fifth-rounder Alex Collins had a nice finish to the season following an unproductive start.
While 710 ESPN Seattle’s John Clayton wrote that Prosise could be the Seahawks’ version of Patriots Super Bowl standout James White, he also mentioned that Seattle could find a powerful back in the draft to challenge Rawls for early-down carries. “Bob, Groz and Tom” discussed another potential option on Tuesday: free agency, specifically, New England’s LeGarrette Blount.
Blount, who turned 30 in December, is listed as 3 inches taller and 35 pounds heavier than Rawls. He rushed 1,161 yards on 299 carries (3.9 average) and led the league with 18 rushing touchdowns last season in New England.
While Tom Wassell said that spending money on a running back in free agency should not be a priority for Seattle this offseason, adding a true sledgehammer at tailback might be an elixir for the running game that lagged to 25th in the NFL last year.
“I wouldn’t list him among the best in the league, but in the Patriots’ plug-and-play system, he works perfectly,” Wassell said. “And that kind of back, that big, bruising back who could be sort of be a change of pace from Rawls and even Prosise, it’d be an interesting concept here.”
“He’s Marshawn except he’s not a lead back,” Wassell added. “Marshawn is an every-down guy whereas Blount is not.”
Dave Grosby said that much of Seattle’s decision would depend on how much Blount, who made about $1 million last season, is looking for in the open market.
“It depends on his salary, and he’s 30 years old, so that’s another thing you’re worried about as well,” Groz said. “But if you’re not bringing him in to be the primary guy, he’d have to be cost-effective.”
Bob Stelton said he thinks the team could use a true short-yardage back.
According to Pro Football Reference, the Seahawks fared well in short-yardage situations last season, averaging 4.8 yards per carry on third- or fourth-and-short – i.e. needing 4 yards or fewer. They converted 14 of 24 opportunities. Excluding a successful fake punt by Jon Ryan which gained 26 yards, that average was just over 4. Blount converted 13 of 20 short-yardage opportunities last season with an average of 5.35 yards per carry.
“Almost like Jerome Bettis was toward the end of his career,” Stelton said. “He was that goal-line guy, he was the battering ram. If you had third-and-a-long 1 or fourth-and-a-short 1 and you were going for it, that’s the guy you bring in. That’s how I view him.”
Which brought up another question: Is the 5-foot-9, 215-pound Rawls a power back?
“He’s kind of in between because of the style of runner that he is,” Wassell said. “He’s violent enough to be considered that; he’s just not a big dude. He’s not a Bettis, he’s not a Brandon Jacobs. I wouldn’t consider Rawls to be a power back, even if he does have the ability to wear down a defense over the course of a game.”