Eddie Lacy heads to Seattle, but offensive line still a question

The Seahawks signed Green Bay's Eddie Lacy to play running back. Analyst Mike Renner says the team still needs to upgrade its line.

| 2 months ago
Packers RB Eddie Lacy

(Don Juan Moore/Getty Images)

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.

| Senior Analyst

Mike is a Senior Analyst at Pro Football Focus. His work has also been featured on The Washington Post, ESPN Insider, and 120 Sports.

  • crosseyedlemon

    Not a cheap one year rental but the other option was to sign someone like Charles and hope he still has something left in the tank. Taking a chance on Lacy makes the most sense when all the other available RBs are aged guys who’s careers are nearly done.

    • https://twitter.com/MALACHiOFCOURSE Malachi

      they’re still thinking about adding j charles

  • Joe Doe

    I just don’t see how this was worth it. Lacy will have a tougher time behind a shaky line than a more mobile back, even if he does drop 20 lbs to get into the 240’s. Telling Seattle to save money for their o-line is like telling a 6 year old not to eat cookies before dinner so he has room for green beans.

    • crosseyedlemon

      Who is the mobile back you have in mind? Most of the RBs still available are guys around 30 who have lost a few steps and can’t be counted on to be very mobile.

      • Joe Doe

        I’d rather look in the draft to stay cheap at the position, and save money to spend on the line.

        • crosseyedlemon

          That’s a valid approach. The Hawks appear to think Lacy is a better option than a RB they could draft in the later rounds. It’s doubtful this will be a make or break signing for them either way.

  • AKjester

    I didn’t see this as a need for the Hawks. The RBs had less yards after contact than previous years, but it would make sense that earlier contact by the defense would make yards after contact more difficult. I would have preferred to see the Hawk’s RBs currently on the roster have a chance to grow and use the cap room to extend guys like Britt and get DB depth so the draft isn’t forced.

    • crosseyedlemon

      Mike mentioned that this is not a significant need but teams can also help themselves by claiming players that opponents could use against them. It never hurts to have some added depth. I think there is much more potential upside than downside for the Hawks here.

    • SikhHawk

      GR8 FA signing, Lacys superb blocking means Russ will be healthier. His pass catching threat with CJP is a game changer. Lacy & Rawls will be a gr8 1-2 like Falcons. Then let him go after 1 yr & hopefully we pick up a 3rd rd supplemental.