With a trio of smaller running backs, all with similar skill sets, the Seattle Seahawks have been in the market for a physical back since the draft.
Today, they finally found that back, acquiring Marshawn Lynch from the Buffalo Bills. ESPN reports that the Bills will receive a 2011 fourth-round pick and a conditional pick in 2012. With Buffalo having used its first-round pick in this year’s draft on Clemson running back C.J. Spiller and with Fred Jackson having three years remaining on his contract, Lynch was expendable.
In Seattle, Lynch will compete with Justin Forsett and Leon Washington for playing time. Following Lynch’s acquisition, the team released Julius Jones, who started 29 games during the 2008 and 2009 seasons.
Lynch’s departure comes as no surprise given his legal difficulties since entering the league and the tumultuous relationship he had with Bills management as well as the Buffalo fanbase.
Picked by the Bills in the first round of the 2007 draft, Lynch showed much promise during his rookie season, rushing for 1,115 yards and seven touchdowns. He followed that up with another 1,000-yard season in 2008 but fell out of favor with last year’s coaching staff, losing his starting job to Jackson by season’s end.
During his time in Buffalo, Lynch was investigated in connection with a hit and run incident, ultimately pleading guilty to a reduced traffic violation charge.
Then in February of 2009, police approached Lynch and two companions inside a vehicle that smelled of marijuana and found a gun they claimed belonged to Lynch. He pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor gun charge.
Ten months later, Lynch was accused of stealing $20 from the wife of a Buffalo police officer.
Look for Lynch to quickly assume the lead back role in Seattle. Both Forsett and Washington are better suited to serve as backups, coming off the bench to provide a change of pace and to play on passing downs.
While Lynch has started in Buffalo since Week 2, it was widely assumed the team had moved him into the starting lineup to showcase him for a potential trade. It is hard to argue with that considering today’s developments.
Lynch has been decent thus far in 2010, but he has hardly been dominant, and it remains to be seen whether he will fulfill the potential he displayed during his first two years in the league.
Although he has solid size at 5’11, 235 pounds, there were whispers out of Buffalo that the coaching staff wanted him to be a more physical, downhill style of runner. Nonetheless, he immediately becomes the most talented running back on the Seahawks roster. He was named to the 2008 Pro Bowl and is just 24 years of age.
Lynch shapes up as a RB3 for fantasy purposes due to the Seahawks struggles on offense and the woeful performance of their offensive line so far this season. It would be foolish to suggest that his acquisition will result in a marked improvement in the Seahawks rushing attack, which currently ranks 27th in the league.
Look for Forsett to become the team’s main backup and for Washington to concentrate on his return duties on special teams. While the biggest fantasy loser from Lynch’s acquisition has to be Jones since he’s now out of a job, Forsett’s decline in value is likely causing his fantasy owner’s some major headaches right now.
In Buffalo, it’s anybody’s guess as to whether Spiller or Jackson will assume the lead role. Spiller clearly has major upside, but the coaching staff has been reluctant to use him. Jackson was productive in 2009 and seems the odds-on favorite to assume the lead back role until Spiller is ready to take over.
Both players shape up as flex plays at best, given that Buffalo has perhaps the worst offense in the league.