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Report: Seahawks, free-agent RB Jamaal Charles have “mutual interest,” free-agent visit upcoming

Free-agent running back Jamaal Charles, a former 1,500-yard rusher for the Kansas City Chiefs until injuries derailed him the last two years, could be a more versatile option for the Seahawks -- if he proves healthy and affordable.
Free-agent running back Jamaal Charles, a former 1,500-yard rusher for the Kansas City Chiefs until injuries derailed him the last two years, could be a more versatile option for the Seahawks -- if he proves healthy and affordable. AP

Now this is more substantiated rumor than Adrian Peterson.

Ian Rapoport of the league-owned NFL Network, citing sources, reported Thursday morning before the start of free agency the Seahawks and veteran running back Jamaal Charles have “mutual interest” -- and that the former 1,500-yard rusher for the Kansas City Chiefs is going to visit Seattle.

Pro Football Talk and NBC Sports reported Charles’ visit to the Seahawks will be next week, well after the first wave of free-agent signings. That fits Seattle’s recent M.O.

Charles, 29, is three years younger than Peterson, the Minnesota Vikings’ former NFL most valuable player rumored this week to be a potentially imminent addition to the Seahawks’ backfield.

But Charles has played in just eight games total over the last two seasons. He’s had pain in both knees over the last year. He tore his anterior cruciate ligament in October 2015, then had another surgery on the same, right knee in November.

That’s what may make him affordable to Seattle, which had $25 million in cap space entering free agency opening Thursday at 1 p.m.

At his healthiest, Charles is far more versatile and fitting to the Seahawks than Peterson. Charles caught 110 passes with 12 touchdown receptions over the 2013 and ‘14 seasons for the Chiefs in their renowned screen game. He could do more and likely cost less than Peterson. How much less -- perhaps into the $2-3 million per year range -- would likely determine if Seattle and Charles could become a match.

Unsubstantiated rumors, as prevalent this time of year as shamrocks, had the Seahawks in the running with Oakland as most likely places for Peterson. But that makes zero sense for Seattle. The 32-year old is a 2014 season-long league suspension and injuries removed from being a 2,000-yard rusher and 2012 NFL most valuable player for Minnesota.

Many such rumors come from agents, family members or friends who are trying to portray multiple teams are interested in their players, for leverage in free agency. That appears to be the case in the Peterson-to-Seattle talk.

The Seahawks are waiting for C.J. Prosise, their tantalizing rookie from 2016, and Thomas Rawls to stay healthy long enough to have a full season as their young (combined NFL experience: three seasons) and inexpensive rushers. That leaves money for them to buy the more-needed offensive linemen, defensive backs and defensive tackles.

"Guys have made statements about who they are and then they have to come back and reestablish that and take it as far as they can," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said last week at the combine. "There is nothing in the way of C.J.

"Thomas Rawls is a terrific player on our team, too, who had a very difficult season. He was banged up all year. So those two guys come back to camp really raring to go, and we are looking forward to that.”

But if they become convinced Charles is healthy enough that they could give him a low-cost opportunity while still being able to buy some linemen and defenders, that may be an equally attractive possibility.

The Seahawks’ pattern since Carroll and generla manager John Schneider arrived in 2010 to run the team is to wait out the first wave of big-bucks signings on the opening day of free agency, let the market set itself at targeted positions, then go after more cost-effective signings in the subsequent days or weeks of free agency.

So if form holds the league’s biggest first-day free-agent splashes won’t be from coming out of Seattle.

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