A look into the running back free agency market
Heading into the off-season the Seattle Seahawks had only one running back on the roster (Leon Washington) and no full backs. That changed on March 4th when Seattle was able to re-sign 25 year old Skittle eating Marshawn Lynch to a 4 year $31 million dollar deal.
One would think the Seattle Seahawks have to be active tomorrow.
Here’s how I see RB shaping up for 2012.
Currently on the Roster:
Marshawn Lynch RB(Starter)
Marshawn Lynch is a 25 year old power back with 5 years experience who can handle the majority of the workload. Marshawn has gained 4,542 yards in 72 games (63.1 yards per game) as a professional averaging 4.0 yards per carry and 15.8 carries per game.
Lynch has a 103.3:1 carries per fumble ratio.
Leon Washington RB
(Change of Pace/Return specialist)
Leon Washington is a 29 year old change of pace back who makes Justin Forsett expendable. Leon adds an explosiveness in the return game that makes him an asset to the team.
Washington has gained 2,130 yards in 87 games (24.5 yards per game) as a professional averaging 4.7 yards per carry while averaging 5.2 carries per game.
He has a 75:1 carries per fumble ratio.
Allen Bradford RB (Practice Squad/Developmental)
Allen Bradford is a 23 year old running back who played in one game during his rookie season. He had 5 carries and averaged 2.6 yards per attempt.
Tyrell Sutton RB
Tyrell Sutton is a 25 year old back who is in his make or break season. Either the front office will view him as the guy who can be Marshawns back up or more likely he will be looking for a new job before the season starts.
Vai Taua RB/FB (Practice Squad/Developmental)
Vai Taua is a 23 year old with no regular season experience.
The Seahawks need to add a backup running back and a fullback either through free agency or the draft.
Peyton Hillis RB
Hillis is a 26 year old power running back who had a breakout 2010 season and then fell off in 2011. Peyton has gained 2,161 yards in 52 games (41.6 yards per game) averaging 4.2 yards per carry and 9.8 carries per game. Hillis has a 56.9:1 carries per fumble ratio.
He is about to get a rude awakening as he hits the open market. Peyton believes he is worth big money because of the 2010 season. Unfortunately for him he isn’t the Peyton that doesn’t have to prove himself as still being capable in order to command a high salary.
After he comes back down to earth it is possible the Seahawks could add him as an insurance policy for Marshawn Lynch.
I would not be surprised if someone offered him a little more money or a better opportunity then Seattle can offer.
Mike Tolbert RB
Tolbert is a 26 year old power back who is very good out of the backfield as a receiver. Mike has gained 1,410 yards on the ground in 59 games (23.9 yards per game) averaging 4.1 yards per carry and 5.8 carries per game. He has a 56.8:1 carries per fumble ratio.
The guy is a bowling ball and although he cannot handle the work load for an entire season he has proven he can carry the ball 150-180 during the corse of one. That is plenty to be considered as a backup to Marshawn plus he would give the Seahawks a second back who could pick up short yardage and take a few big hits away from Lynch.
Tolbert might have a little more value to the Seahawks than Hillis because he can replace Justin Forsett as the third down back.
Green-Ellis is a 26 year old power back who is excellent in short yardage situation and has never fumbled as a professional on 510 career carries. BenJarvus has gained 2,064 yards (38.9 yards per game) averaging 4.1 yards per carry and 9.6 carries per game.
It is a good year to be looking for a backup to Marshawn. Green-Ellis could certainly fill that role and if Lynch went down with an injury there is no doubt he could handle the bulk of the carries.
Michael Robinson FB
Michael Robinson is a 29 year old fullback coming off a season where he played in his first pro bowl. He has finally made the transition from quarterback to fullback and has become a solid blocker now that he has learned the position. A fullback can play into his 30’s and still be effective.
There are a couple fullbacks who are restricted free agent fullbacks that I would be interested in but for the purpose of this piece I will not touch RFA’s.
Cedric Benson RB
A 29 year old back who will be looking for a starting job. He will turn 30 during the regular season and we are far to familiar with 30 year old running backs in Seattle.
He has gained 5,769 yards (63.4 yards per game) averaging 3.8 yards per carry and 16.8 carries per game. Benson has a 80.5:1 carry per fumble ratio.
Nothing against Benson but he will be looking for a much different scenario then the Seahawks are offering and even if he could get over that there is no way Seattle would be able to offer him near the money other teams (who are looking for him to fill a larger role) will be willing to offer.
Michael Bush RB
A 27 year old power back with 4 years experience. Michael has gained 2,642 yards (43.3 yards per game) averaging 4.2 yards per carry and 10.4 carries per game.
Bush has a solid 158:1 carries per fumble ratio.
Bush might be my number one choice to back up Lynch but he is definitely going to command a decent chunk of change. Darren McFadden is injury prone so you would assume the Raiders would like to have him back if no one gives him starter type money. He’s more valuable to the Raiders than he would be the Seahawks and Seattle would likely have to overpay for his services.
Former front offices have done this but the current one stands pat and is always considering value.
Ryan Grant RB
A 29 year old running back who captured magic in a bottle a few years back. Unfortunately for him someone dropped the bottle and it shattered. Grant has gained 4,016 yards (63.7 yards per game) averaging 4.3 yards per carry and 14.7 yards per carry. Ryan has a 184.8:1 carry per fumble ratio.
Like Cedric Benson he is going to turn 30 during the season and age is the major deterrent here in my book, although he only has 5 years experience and may be able to push an extra year or two out of his body. On a side note he cost me a question during trivia night when I accidentally called RGIII Ryan Grant III as opposed to Robert Griffin III.
Justin Forsett RB
I felt I should make an honorable mention here for the running back who came in like a lion and has finished his Seahawks career like a lamb.
On a personal level he is a great young man but on the football field he is a poor man’s Maurice Morris.
Le’Ron McClain FB
A 27 year old fullback who is not a great run blocker. That does not fit Pete Carroll’s vision for his offense running the ball and controlling the clock.
I don’t expect him to be pursued by the Seahawks.
Earnest Graham FB – 32 year old full back trying to come off an achillies tear. After 30 an injury as major as a torn achillies is enough for me to look at different options.