The Seattle Seahawks have signed former Cardinals and Colts running back Edgerrin James to a one year contract. The signing of James comes after the team struggled to run the ball in the pre-season, a trend that began last year. The deal is reportedly for one year and $2 million.
The 31-year old James is coming off the worst year of his illustrious 10 year career, with just 514 yards rushing and three TD. He lost his starting job to Tim Hightower part way through the season before reclaiming it and providing steady, if not spectacular, production during the team’s run to the Super Bowl.
With James on board, the Seahawks are expected to release T.J. Duckett and enter the season with Julius Jones, diminutive Justin Forsett and James as the team’s three running backs. His signing further magnifies general manager Tim Ruskell’s questionable decision not to pick a running back in this year’s rookie draft despite the team’s questionable depth at the position.
It all starts up front with the offensive line and unfortunately for Seattle, they have already lost three-fifths of what was expected to be their starting offensive line. Left tackle Walter Jones is out indefinitely due to arthroscopic surgery on his left knee, center Chris Spencer is likely to miss one or two games with a slight tear in his right quadriceps and left guard Mike Wahle was released after failing his physical. If Spencer and Jones are not available on opening day, the team will go with a very inexperienced offensive line to start the season.
James is unlikely to have signed in Seattle without receiving at least some assurance that he would receive a reasonable amount of playing time. Unfortunately, his average yards per rush over the last three seasons were 3.4, 3.8 and 3.9 so it is clear that his big play ability has been extremely diminished. He has adapted his game to become more of an inside, straight ahead runner who avoids negative plays.
Look for James to back up Jones but get 8-12 carries per game and be the team’s short yardage option, a role he lost to Hightower in Arizona, and perhaps a late game closer. James is, at best, a solid handcuff to Jones but an interesting one because of Jones’ history of injuries and ineffectiveness.