A little over a month into his career with the Seattle Seahawks, LenDale White was released by the club on Friday.
The Seahawks acquired White and defensive tackle Kevin Vickerson during the NFL draft in April in exchange for the teams swapping fourth and sixth round draft choices. Although the cost to acquire White was minimal, it was a shock that his former college head coach Pete Carroll would release him prior to training camp.
However, general manager John Schneider’s comments regarding the decision to release White left little to the imagination. Schneider commented that White, “was not ready to be a member of the Seattle Seahawks” and that he does, “not appear to be the right fit at this point in our program.”
Reports also indicate that White is facing a four-game suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy, although the Seahawks were apparently aware of that at the time of the trade.
The looming suspension explains why the team was able to acquire White at such a minimal cost.
The 25 year old White is coming off the least productive season of his four-year career, finishing 2009 with 222 yards rushing on 64 carries to go along with two touchdowns. During the 2008 and 2009 seasons, White accumulated 1,883 yards and 22 touchdowns.
Entering 2009, it was expected that White would continue to pair with Chris Johnson in a thunder and lightning backfield but Johnson’s emergence as perhaps the league’s best running back left White with only a minimal role in the team’s offense.
For White, this could very well be the end of the road for him in the NFL. He has been mostly a bust during his career and is likely viewed by most team’s as a marginal talent whose production does not overcome the many issues that he has had.
Expect White to remain a free agent and perhaps an option if a team suffers an injury at the position during the preseason.
The biggest winner from White’s release has to be Julius Jones. When the team acquired White and former New York Jet Leon Washington during the draft, it was expected that Jones would be jettisoned by the club because Justin Forsett is a similar player with a much cheaper salary.
However, Jones now figures to compete with Forsett for the starting role during preseason while Washington recovers from a horrific leg injury suffered last year. Louis Rankin and Quinton Ganther are also on the roster but neither player is likely to earn much playing time in the team’s base offense.
While White’s release provides Jones with an opportunity to earn a roster spot, expect the diminutive Forsett to earn the starting role on opening day. Jones’ Seahawks career has been marred by inconsistency and an inability to run the ball inside the red zone (1.8 yards per carry) and play well on the road (180 yards in 2009).
Forsett displayed much more big play ability than Jones in his first extended playing time in 2009, finishing with 619 yards rushing to go along with 350 receiving yards and five total touchdowns. He finished the year with an impressive 5.4 yards per carry rushing average and averaged 8.5 yards per reception.
However, while Forsett may win the job on opening day, it is likely that Washington will be given an opportunity to earn a significant role once he returns to full health.
With so many questions marks in the Seahawks backfield, it wouldn’t be a surprise if the team were to acquire another veteran rusher to add to the mix. Marshawn Lynch’s days in Buffalo appear to be numbered and Brian Westbrook remains on the market.
With the Seahawks in a rebuilding mode and issues along the offensive line and at quarterback, the Seahawks backfield is certainly one to avoid when drafting your fantasy football squad in 2010.