The Seahawks’ prove-it deal for Eddie Lacy is reportedly even better for the team that it already appeared.
The 26-year-old running back who agreed to terms with Seattle Tuesday has a $1,3650,000 guaranteed base salary in 2017 with a $1.5 million signing bonus, according to CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora.
That’s $2,865,000 guaranteed — or about $400,000 more than the Seahawks guaranteed free-agent offensive lineman J’Marcus Webb last spring before cutting him last fall.
Lacy has far more potential upside than Webb ever did for Seattle.
As I expected here on Tuesday, Lacy’s deal also includes $385,000 in bonuses tied to him making team weight benchmarks, La Canfora reported. Lacy’s former team, Green Bay, listed him at 234 pounds. But Lacy has reportedly been over 260 in parts of the last two years, including 267 just last week. He’s been recuperating from an ankle surgery that ended his 2016 season with the Packers after just five games.
Coach Pete Carroll was asked on Seattle’s 710-AM radio Tuesday if the Seahawks could expect Lacy to weigh 235 pounds in the 2017 season. Carroll said the 240-pound range would be more realistic.
Yet Carroll pointed out size is why Lacy has now joined recently injured Thomas Rawls and C.J. Prosise in Seattle’s backfield.
"I like that we're bringing in a big, tough guy that's gonna send a message the way he plays,” Carroll said on 710 AM.
"This is a chance for him to prove it.”
Indeed it is.
Lacy can earn an additional $1 million in weekly bonuses for being on the Seahawks’ roster, according to La Canfora, and $1.3 million more in what the reporter termed “not likely to be earned incentives.” Those are likely excellence-performance based, such as Pro Bowl selection, league awards, rushing titles, etc. No one that has seen Lacy play — and not play — the last two years expects those.
So it appears the Seahawks are more likely going to end up owing Lacy $4.25 million for this year than the contract’s maximum value of $5.5 million.
The Seahawks signed him not for his 2015 and ‘16 but for what Lacy did the two years before that. He was the NFL offensive rookie of the year and Pro Bowl back out of Alabama, with 1,178 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2013. He followed that with a 1,139 yards rushing with nine scores and another Pro Bowl selection in ’14.
After Lacy dipped to 758 yards and three TDs on the ground in 2015, Packers coach Mike McCarthy told him he needed to lose weight. In 2016, the Packers put him on injured reserve with an ankle injury in October that needed surgery.
Veteran Packers writer Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Tuesday that Lacy weighed 267 pounds last week at one of his three free-agent visits in the last week. Lacy was known to have visited with Seattle, Minnesota and Green Bay.
For the Seahawks, giving Lacy only one year puts a chip squarely on the big back’s broad shoulders for next season — and Carroll likes nothing as much as a player with a chip on his shoulder. He cultivates them. It’s why over half his active roster has been undrafted free agents in each of Seattle’s last few seasons.
Lacy’s already been denied with this Seattle signing and the league’s current market for him the one event for which all football players sacrifice, play and practice through injuries and surgeries, do all their offseason training and ultimately risk their well-being playing football: that first, huge, multiyear free-agent contract with a huge signing bonus that sets the player and his family for life.
Now Lacy has ample motivation to not only stay in semi-shape — $385,000 to keep tipping the scales in his favor — but to romp like it’s 2013 again. He can with a big Seahawks season set himself up for that free-agent windfall one year later than he had hoped, this time next year.
If Lacy does that, Carroll and the Seahawks have for 2017 their plowing, workhorse back they haven’t had since Marshawn Lynch retired following the 2015 season, to fix their short-yardage issues of a year ago.
If he doesn’t, the Seahawks have invested to him less than $3 million of their $167 million salary cap and just 10 or so months, with no obligation, loss of draft picks or anything beyond 2017.