Edge Is Back

Yes, the Seattle Seahawks have been down this path before.  The history of the franchise is littered with Hall of Fame caliber players riding off into the sunset. 

Franco Harris joined the team in 1984 at the age of 34.  Warren Moon signed on at the age of 40 and played the 1997-98 seasons for the Seahawks (remarkably continuing his career beyond that for two more seasons of limited activity in Kansas City).  John Randle left behind the Vikings for three seasons in the Pacific Northwest beginning in 2001, at the age of 33.  And Jerry Rice finished up his storied career with a cup of coffee in Seattle at the age of 42 in 2004.

Combined playoff appearances by this group while with the Seahawks?  Two – one each for Randle (who did not record a tackle) and Rice (who did not catch a pass) in the 2003 & 2004 playoffs, respectively.

So, what makes today’s signing of Edgerrin James any different?  Well, on the surface, maybe nothing.  After all, this is a team coming off a 4-12 season and James is rebounding from a season in which he tallied the fewest yards of his career.  That does not necessarily spell great success for either party.

And there is a whiff of “marriage of convenience” to today’s announcement.  After all, Seattle is borderline desperate to find the running game that has been lacking since Shaun Alexander‘s career fell off the proverbial cliff and there weren’t exactly a long line of suitors for James’s services with less than three weeks to go until opening day.

Edgerrin James

Edgerrin James

But there might be more than meets the eye for the future success of this coupling.  Start with James’ age.  He just turned 31 – certainly not in the prime of his career but not pushing up daisies either.  In fact, James is less than a year older than LaDainian Tomlinson and LT still finds himself a card-carrying member of the “elite” class of NFL running backs.

As importantly, take a look at his contributions to Arizona’s run to the Super Bowl last season.  It is impossible to discount the 4.6 yard per carry average (on 32 combined carries) that Edge put up in hard-fought victories over Atlanta and Philadelphia in the playoffs and the fact that he managed 13 touches in the tough Super Bowl loss (despite the prevailing memory of the Cardinals’ prolific pass offense in that epic game) speaks to his continued relevance for a contender as recently as 6 months ago.

I think the signing is a no-brainer for Seattle and I can’t understand why it took this long for some team to take the “gamble” on signing a known commodity like James.  Ross Tucker of SI.com broached the subject last week and asked the same question about James and other veteran contributors who have been unceremoniously dumped into the unemployment line.

I don’t want to get into the prediction game, but I think it’s safe to say that James is more likely to duplicate Warren Moon’s 1997 Pro Bowl season in Seattle than Franco Harris’s 1984 washout season with the ‘Hawks.  Starting running back Julius Jones is serviceable but does not have the resume to guarantee himself carries at James’s expense.  And at age 28, Jones is not exactly fresh legs either.

James was under-utilized by the Cards last season, with only five games of double digit carries throughout the regular season.  He asked for, and was denied, his release until the team finally granted his wish after the Super Bowl.  Don’t think for a minute that Edge doesn’t have some extra motivation to help his new teammates knock off last season’s division champs.

And the NFC West is definitely up for grabs.  It will be very interesting to see what develops when Edge lines up against his former teammates in Week 6 & Week 10.  If nothing else, he just added some spice to a division that desperately needs it.  Be sure to keep an eye on this developing situation.

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~ by acm213 on August 25, 2009.

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