|ESPN.com: NFL Nation||[Print without images]|
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
Edgerrin James' signing with the Seahawks, reported by ESPN's Adam Schefter, puts Seattle starter Julius Jones in a familiar and unwelcome position. He now must wonder, again, how many carries he'll share. In my view, James wouldn't sign with a team without feeling as though he had a chance to get the carries Arizona would not give him.
The bigger personnel question, in my view, might concern what happens to veteran backup T.J. Duckett if James lands on the roster. Justin Forsett has seemingly done enough to stick around, particularly given his relatively low price tag. But the Seahawks presumably would not keep four halfbacks on their initial 53-man roster. The team paid a $2 million signing bonus to Duckett last year and another guaranteed $2 million bonus to him earlier this year. Duckett's 2009 salary is scheduled to be $2.5 million.
The move to add James is also consistent with how Seahawks general manager Tim Ruskell reacts to situations. The Seahawks lacked punch at receiver in the 2006 season opener. A day later, Ruskell traded a first-round choice for Deion Branch. When the team had issues at safety, he paid big money to Deon Grant while adding another veteran safety, Brian Russell.
This month, the Seattle ground game struggled to get going in two exhibition games. Ruskell reacted by seeking a big-name running back, even a 31-year-old one.
I've questioned the Seahawks' depth at running back all offseason, one reason I expected the team to consider drafting a runner in the first three rounds. Seattle did not find the draft-day value it sought in a running back, leaving Jones, T.J. Duckett and the inexperienced Justin Forsett as the only viable backs on the roster.
While adding James strengthens Seattle's depth at running back, issues on the offensive line persist. It's unreasonable to expect most backs, and especially an older one, to flourish behind a struggling offensive line. James is dependable and versatile enough to play on any down, however, and his abilities in blitz pickup could help in pass protection.
Breaking long runs is not James' game, but he showed during the Cardinals' postseason run that he could still help a team.
Arizona simply wasn't willing to pay James' salary of $5 million this season, and James was bitter enough about his diminished role to want out. And so the Cardinals released him.
The Seahawks are getting a supremely motivated player from a division rival. James is also smart enough to pass along information the Seahawks might find useful. That angle is often overrated, but he surely has a better feel and understanding of the Cardinals' playbook than anyone on the Seattle staff. That probably helps a little.