The other roster move that the Seahawks needed to make room to announce the signing (soon) of free-agent running back Fred Jackson just happened: Christine Michael is going home to Texas.
Sunday afternoon the Seahawks made official they traded Michael, its second-round draft choice in 2013 from Texas A&M their coaches could never fully trust, to Dallas for a draft choice conditional on how much the native of Beaumont, Texas, produces for the Cowboys.
The move means the Seahawks essentially are swapping Michael for Jackson, the Buffalo Bills’ former lead runner – minus Robert Turbin, whom the team placed on injured reserve Saturday with a high-ankle sprain.
(That must be some sprained ankle, by the way, for Seattle to deem Turbin unfit for the entire season. Either that, or it was the only way to make all this roster maneuvering work.)
So in empirical terms the Seahawks are shedding 24- and 25-year-old running backs with 1,152 combined career yards rushing and two total touchdowns – and gaining a 34-year old role-player backup to Marshawn Lynch who has 5,646 career yards rushing, 2,640 yards receiving and 37 total touchdowns.
More than the numbers and the fact Jackson is an exquisite receiver out of the backfield who will work Seattle’s screen game and more on third downs, these moves are a continuation of the Seahawks’ 2015 Marshawn Lynch Care Package. First in March came his additional $5 million guaranteed for this year in Lynch’s two-year contract extension through the ‘17 season. Now this, shedding two of their previous eventual heirs apparent to Lynch to add the 29-year-old big guy’s biggest pal from their days together in the same Bills backfield.
Don’t underestimate how much the Seahawks are trying to make Lynch happy and motivated for what could be his final run at another Super Bowl title this season.
Another big winner in all this roster management behind Lynch: Thomas Rawls.
The undrafted rookie free agent who played three seasons at Michigan and a final one at Central Michigan last year was unlikely to clear waivers and get onto Seattle’s practice squad after rushing for 87 yards behind a second- and third-team line Thursday night in Seattle’s preseason finale against Oakland. But now it’s obvious this is about more than Rawls avoiding waivers. The trade of Michael and putting Turbin on injured reserve show the Seahawks want to have Rawls around under club contract control for years, not so much for now but for if and when Lynch decides he’s done with playing and “just (being) here so I won’t get fined.”
The 5-foot-9, 215-pound, power-packed rookie was a much-hyped, all-state back in high school out of Flint, Michigan. He rushed for 333 yards in three seasons at the University of Michigan before he transferred last summer as a graduate to Central Michigan. At CMU in 2014 he romped for 1,103 yards and 10 touchdowns in just nine games.
Rawls played through knee pain late last season before missing the Bahamas Bowl with what the Chippewas announced was an “academic issue.” CMU suspended him for two games in September after he was facing felony charges in a purse-snatching incident in a Michigan casino. According to the Mount Pleasant Morning Sun, Rawls eventually entered a guilty plea to a high court misdemeanor of attempted larceny in a building. He was sentenced to a year of probation, 104 hours of community service to be completed in nine months, plus fines and restitution costs.
In June, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll talked about Rawls more than head coaches of Super Bowl teams usually talk about undrafted free-agent running backs that played just nine games inside the Mid-American Conference the previous college season.
“I’ve studied Thomas a lot and I love his style of running,” Carroll said. “He’s really a head-knocker. He really goes after guys. When you get to see him with the pads on you’ll see how physical he is.
“He had play after play in college of just smacking people and running and breaking tackle. He’s showed very good feet and caught the ball well. He’s going to be a very willing blocker and he was a real bright spot. He really jumped out at us, knowing that his most exciting dimension hasn’t even been seen yet. ... It will be really fun to see him when we start playing ball.”
EX-UW HUSKY WR KEVIN SMITH TO PRACTICE SQUAD
The agent for former University of Washington wide receiver Kevin Smith tweeted Sunday morning his client has cleared waivers in the league period that ended Sunday morning and will be joining the Seahawks’ practice squad.
Smith was in Seattle’s training camp last season but was among the team’s initial cuts down to 75 players in August 2014. Saturday the Seahawks waived him after an impressive preseason on special teams and as an occasional target of starting quarterback Russell Wilson.
NOW EX-SEAHAWKS CLAIMED ON WAIVERS
Per the league’s official transactions for Sunday, here is the list of former Seahawks claimed on waivers:
DT T.Y. McGill, by Indianapolis
DE Obum Gwacham, by New Orleans
S Ronald Martin, by New York Jets
S Keenan Lambert, by Oakland