Eddie Lacy heads to Seattle, but offensive line still a question
Eddie Lacy is officially a member of the Seattle Seahawks after signing a one-year deal worth as much as $5.5 million next season. The Seahawks weren’t necessarily believed to be running back needy with Thomas Rawls and C.J. Prosise in tow, but the health of each has been a concern over their careers and Lacy will be a steal at that price if fully healthy. That’s a big “if” though, as Lacy himself has managed only 700 snaps the past two seasons due to injury.
When he’s been on the field though over the course of his career, Lacy has been one of the most effective backs in the NFL. Even last season with his weight very much in question, Lacy still averaged 5.1 yards per carry, 3.4 yards after contact per attempt, and broke 19 tackles on 71 carries. Those are elite numbers, albeit over a small sample size.
The big question is whether that will translate from one of the better offensive lines in the league to one that’s been treated as an afterthought. Schematically, Seattle does a good job of creating space for the team’s running backs to get one-on-one opportunities with linebackers, but those have become far more infrequent in recent years. They generated only 1.7 yards before contact on handoffs last year and 1.5 in 2015 after averaging 1.9 in 2014 when they led the NFL in rushing yards. As a team, they were dead last in PFF’s run-blocking grading a season ago. With the only change so far being that Seattle added former Jaguars guard/tackle Luke Joeckel, that doesn’t look like it will be changing anytime soon.
If Lacy is still able to average 3.4 yards after contact per attempt, he’ll be successful behind any offensive line, but that’s a bit of an outlier from his career average. In the three years prior he averaged 2.6 yards after contact on 801 career attempts, still one of the better figures in the league. He also brings a receiving and pass-blocking element to the table that allows him to be a three-down back. Lacy has yielded 17 pressures on 308 pass-blocking snaps in his career, making him a viable candidate to start at left tackle next year for Seattle. He’s also broken 36 tackles on 106 receptions in his career.
When it’s all said and done, the legitimacy of Lacy’s contract depends on his weight and his healthy. If both of those boxes are checked, he’s well worth the money. If they’re not, the Seahawks could have another revolving door on their hands at the position.