Part I: Offensive Line
Part II: Defensive Line
Part III: Secondary
Part IV: Linebackers
Part V: Wide Receivers & Tight Ends
Part VI: Running Backs & Fullbacks
Part VII: Quarterbacks
Part VIII: Summary & Recommendations
State Of The Position
People are fond of saying that Marshawn Lynch is the face of the franchise now. They say the team is helpless without out. Sentiments like that would have been laughed at midway through this season when he was averaging under 50 yards per game. Sure, he had authored the best run in Seahawks history, but that was last year. The rest of his Seattle career had been underwhelming. Then, Pete Carroll spoke to Tom Cable after a loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, and told him that they were going to commit to the run. That shift had ripple effects throughout the team, but most directly on Lynch. His output skyrocketed to Pro Bowl levels, and his will to fight for every yard became a symbol of the transition the team was going through. The Seahawks push you around. Not vice versa.
The unpopular reality is that while Lynch is better than most backs in the league, he is not required for this to work. There are plenty of backs that could be productive in this system, and with this sort of commitment to running the ball. He is an unrestricted free agent, and the team will have to think about whether it is worth the investment necessary to keep a top-flight running back. There is reason to believe Lynch will be even better next year over the course of a full season, and may have another 1-2 years of his best production still to come. Beyond that is a crap shoot.
Justin Forsett and Leon Washington mixed in with Lynch over time. Combined, they still had less than half of Lynch’s rushing attempts. Washington made the most of his chances with a healthy 4.7 average per carry and three runs over 20 yards (Lynch only had four in nearly 6X the carries). Washington is still valuable as a change-up back, and as a returner, but he turns 30 next season. Next year could very well be his last for Seattle.
Forsett was a major disappointment. He only managed 3.2 yards per carry, and it would have been worse if not for his 3rd and long (9+ yards) runs where he averaged 6.4. This is a guy who has averaged close to five yards per carry through his career, and he was basically a sub-3.0 guy this season. He has never been the most physically gifted player, and his spot on the team is highly suspect next season.
Michael Robinson earned a Pro Bowl spot for his efforts this year. He made some key blocks for Lynch, who has consistently run better out of two-back formations. Robinson remains an undersized fullback, and there is no position more physically taxing than fullback. The team needs to be bringing in new fullbacks to challenge Robinson, who will be 30, every training camp. Some fullbacks last into the mid-30s. Robinson is not built like those fullbacks, so the breakdown could come sooner.
2012 Seahawks Free Agent Running Backs & Fullbacks:
- RB Justin Forsett
- RB Marshawn Lynch
- FB Michael Robinson
- RB Leon Washington
- RB Jay Finley (Practice Squad)
Robinson likely comes back for a 2-3 year deal, but will get some interest elsewhere. Forsett will not be back.
RB Peyton Hillis
Yes, Hillis was a disaster and a douche last season. He’s also 26, and one year removed from a 1,600 yard (rushing and receiving), 13 TD season. He runs hard when healthy and motivated. Same thing here, though, in terms of no deal over 3 years.
RB Mike Tolbert
Tolbert is football. The guy is built like a tank, and is also 26. Even splitting carries, he managed almost 500 yards and 8 rushing TDs last season. He is also a surprisingly good receiver who pulled in 54 balls for another 433 yards and 2 TDs. I would take him over Hillis any day.
RB Michael Bush
Bush may be the best Lynch alternative. He is 27, runs with similar ferocity, and knows Cable’s system. He went for nearly 1,500 total yards at 6’1″ and 245 lbs.
RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis
Ellis is only 26, and is smaller at 5’11” 215 lbs. He has a combined 24 TDs in the last two seasons, and is a hard runner. He is not a breakaway threat. His career long run is only 33 yards. He was over 1,000 yards only a year ago.
Grant is not the runner he once was at 29, but has always been a good yards per carry guy. He might be a good signing as a rotational player.