I’m going to go ahead and list the best available options, but don’t expect any of them to land in Seattle.
Pete Carroll showed his content with Leon Washington by handing the return specialist a 4 year, $12 million contract after what I thought was a pro bowl caliber return season. Charlie Whitehurst may have backdoored them into the playoffs with the Rams victory, but the Seahawks don’t win against the Chargers without those ridiculous Washington returns.
Marshawn Lynch will without question (barring injury) enter the season with the mothers load of carries. It’ll be interesting to see after a full season if his backup Justin Forsett and Lynch can find the dynamic that made them a nightmare at Cal.
That doesn’t leave much room for anyone prominent, however, I would not be surprised to see Pete add a power blocking fullback, there are certainly some good ones available as well. Quinton Ganther is a free agent and it’s anybodys guess if he will stay or go in these uncertain times.
Top Running Backs:
Deangalo Williams, Ronnie Brown, Ahmad Bradshaw, Joseph Addai, Pierre Thomas, Darren Sproles, Michael Bush, Carnell Williams , Tim Hightower, Clinton Portis, Jerome Harrison, Ricky Williams, Jason Snelling, Kevin Smith, Brian Westbrook, *Benjarvus Green Ellis (RFA).
Certainly not a shabby group, there are four starting caliber running backs at the top and runners like Williams don’t generally hit the market too often. I’m surprised with a not-anything-close-to-sure rookie quarterback in Carolina that they don’t feel they’re better off with Williams and Jonathan Stewart in their backfield instead of just the latter.
Like I said, barring injury, expect none to end up with the Hawks.
Lets take a look at some more realistic names among the available fullbacks, and there are several quality options:
1) Vonta Leach (please?)
After Tim Ruskell foolishly failed to pay Leonard Weaver more then the measly $1.75 million annual sum the Eagles stole him for, Carroll and co. landing Leach would be a huge coup for the running game.
Widely regarded as one of the leagues best run blocking and overall fullbacks, he would help stablize a run blocking system that is (idealy) going to field four guys with either one year of experience (2) or none at all (2), along the offensive line.
When cough… Robert Gallery… Cough… Gets here, that would put a nice stamp on the blocking revamp.
Leach was recently revealed No. 65 overall in NFL Networks big time plugging segment “Top 100 players”.
To put it in perspective, that’s higher then Seattles big off season target from last off season, Brandon Marshall, who came in at No. 68.
2) Le’Roin McClain
He is perhaps the best overall fullback available and is by far the most prolific in terms of yardage and touchdowns.
Most would not argue he is a better run blocker then Leach, which is why Leach is No. 1.
I also don’t think he’s leaving Baltimore, Leach has never tasted the post season before, and at square one in their rebuilding mode, the Seahawks have already been there. McClain has had tremendous on field and overall team success in Baltimore who will definitely be a Super Bowl pick by some in 2011.
3) Lawrence Vickers
He had an average, maybe even slightly below average season, but his role was phased out and he wasn’t used much in Cleveland. When he’s on the field, he’s a very effective player and is an attractive option if the Seahawks can’t land the first two.
4) John Kuhn
Is probably not leaving Green Bay after a Super Bowl victory. The Schneider tie is there though, so anything goes, Scott Fujita cashed in after a huge playoff binge and bolted for Cleveland after getting his ring.
I would prefer him to Vickers, but the probability he leaves is small.
5) Naufu Tahi
I’ll admit, i’m mostly familiar with Tahi when I used to play as the Minnesota Vikings in Madden 2010. He was a 78 overall and always made plays for me so I have that personal bias for him (well, he is No. 5…).
I don’t find him as appealing as the other available options, but he is certainly an upgrade over Mike Robinson.
So far in our free agency preview, you can expect the Seahawks to sign at the very least one quarterback and one fullback in free agency.
If you didn’t already catch it, view our free agency quarterback preview here.