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Eddie Lacy signing creates training-camp intrigue for Seahawks

UPDATED: Mon., May 22, 2017

Former Green Bay Packers running back Eddie Lacy received a $55,000 incentive bonus from his new team the Seattle Seahawks for weighing in at less than 250 pounds. (Ross D. Franklin / Associated Press)
Former Green Bay Packers running back Eddie Lacy received a $55,000 incentive bonus from his new team the Seattle Seahawks for weighing in at less than 250 pounds. (Ross D. Franklin / Associated Press)
By Art Thiel Sportspress Northwest

When a guy gets called out for being too fat in a place where haute cuisine consists of PBR, bratwurst and cheese curds, the shame figures to run thick as poutine. Which is why Eddie Lacy is shaping up as the most intriguing training camp story for the Seahawks in July.

You may have heard that the Seahawks free-agent running back from Green Bay, where Jenny Craig is just another waitress at the Bar on Holmgren Way, met his first contract incentive Monday.

At 5-foot-11, he weighed 253 pounds, two under the prescribed limit, an achievement rewarded with a $55,000 bonus. Just about every sports-talk radio host in Seattle is paid to shill endlessly the weight-loss wonders of something called 30/10, but Lacy earned himself the value of a basic Land Rover merely by driving past the drive-through window.

I like his deal better.

If Lacey hits all seven milestones for weight in 2017, he will earn $385,000, according to a story by ESPN’s Sheil Kapadia.

It’s part of $2.7 million in performance bonuses that Lacey can earn beyond his $2.9 million guaranteed salary. It’s the Seahawks way of incentivizing Lacy to return to being a load of bricks instead of a loaf of bread.

If he reaches 245 in September and stays there through December, he’ll earn the $385,000. Should he rush for 1,200 yards, the bonus is $1.3 million.

Overshadowed by his most recent two years with the Packers was his first two years there. Coming out of Alabama as the 61st pick in the 2013 draft, he rushed for 2,317 yards combined in 2013-14 – most by any Packers back in his first two years with the club. Same thing for his 24 touchdowns. He was the NFL’s offensive rookie of the year.

But in 2015, Lacy’s production fell to 758 yards and three TDs. Another running back, James Starks, drew many carries, and Lacy was benched for a game in December for missing curfew. Packers coach Mike McCarthy was blunt.

“He’s got a lot of work to do,” McCarthy said in his season-ending press conference in January 2016. “His offseason last year was not good enough and he never recovered from it. He cannot play at the weight he played at this year.”

The Packers were always vague about his exact weight, but word was he played north of 260. He was listed at 230 for the beginning of 2016, but that was more like a range finder.

After five games of 2017, it didn’t much matter. He broke an ankle, had surgery and was done for the season, his fourth and final on his rookie-year contract. With the emergence of converted wideout Ty Montgomery from Stanford, the Packers no longer wanted Lacy, especially with his apparent need to feed. They let him go into free agency.

But in those five games, Lacy averaged a career-high 5.1 yards per carry, much of it in the tackle-busting style of Marshawn Lynch. You may have noted that in the absence of the the temporarily retired Lynch and oft-injured Thomas Rawls, the Seahawks’ running game was without menace.

The Seahawks averaged the most running plays per game over QB Russell Wilson’s first four years than any team in the NFL. Last year, they were 20th.

“We lost 100-something runs last year, and that was basically the story,” Carroll told ESPN 710 radio this week. “That was basically the tale of why everything came about as it did. The defense had to do some more stuff. We had to throw the ball more. We had to pass protect more. The running game got knocked up.

“With the quarterback being a mess and the running-back situation, everybody being banged up, we were just unable to find it. So I think we’ll come roaring right back at it.”

Earlier in the offseason, Carroll said, “When Russell wasn’t equipped to run, it factored into the running game in the subtle ways. Over the years, he has made us unique.

“In one respect, we’ve learned how to play without it and still win the division and we’ll be better for that. But that’s not the way I want to go. So I’ll try to avoid that as much as possible.”

That’s why they took a chance on Lacy, who won’t be 27 until Jan. 1. Between him and Rawls, 23, the Seahawks seek about 90 percent of what Lynch gave them in his prime. The other 10 percent, the sheer crotch-grabbing ferocity, is unavailable anywhere else on the planet.

The Seahawks’ enfeeblement was plain in the playoff loss in Atlanta that ended the season. After slashing for 161 yards in 27 carries against mediocre Detroit in the first postseason game, Rawls was held to 34 yards in 11 carries by the Falcons. Wilson led the team with 49 yards rushing.

Obviously, the Seahawks fell behind and had to throw, but Carroll had little faith the offense could grind its way back into contention. Without an ability to rush effectively, the dominoes of Carroll’s plan fell all over the floor and out the door.

For 2017, Rawls, the incumbent, and newcomer Lacy will hash it out in preseason, along with second-year RB C.J. Prosise. Besides letting it be known he hit the first poundage mark with his new team, Lacy is also trying to sell his new fan base with his dedication to fitness on Twitter.

He also said farewell to Green Bay in a salutary way, offering a public garage sale of four years of stuff, with all proceeds to charity:

It would appear that Lacy has one characteristic that is found in a lot of Carroll hires: A desperate desire for a do-over and/or a make-up for opportunities missed. And he’s fighting a weight problem, making him like 100 percent of sports-talk hosts as well as 90 percent of America.

Plus, the Seahawks open the regular season in Green Bay.

It is hard not to like this guy’s story. If he pulls it off, 12s will be urged to leave open a coronary artery or two for celebratory brats and curds.

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