Remember Eddie Lacy?
That, perhaps, is a “yes” and “no” sort of question.
A second-round pick in 2013, Lacy had fantastic first and second seasons in the NFL, with averages of 1,500 total yards and 12 total touchdowns. Then came 2015, when his weight ballooned and his production dropped to 946 total yards and five touchdowns.
A rejuvenated Lacy, embarrassed by what had happened and/or fueled by a contract season, looked like he was on course for a big bounce-back season. He was still big but his explosiveness had returned. In the first four games, Lacy rushed for 295 yards and averaged a sizzling 5.46 yards per carry. In Week 6 against Dallas, Lacy played through an injured ankle and managed to gain 65 yards on 17 attempts. He wouldn’t play again due to season-ending surgery. His five-game total of 360 yards put him on pace for 1,152 yards with a 5.1-yard average.
When healthy and motivated, the Packers — and the rest of the league — know what Lacy is capable of doing. He runs through, spins around, jumps over or drags defenders. He is sure-handed and productive in the passing game, ranking third among all players in 2014 in yards after the catch per catch. He is a superb pass protector with his combination of brawn and brains.
There’s no doubting Lacy’s talent. But there is some doubting his passion for the game. If Lacy let his weight get out of hand while he was on his rookie contract, how would he react to getting a second contract?
With that in mind, it seems more likely than not that Lacy would be an affordable re-signing for the Packers with a one-year deal that would be a win-win for both sides. For Green Bay, it would lessen the financial risk. For Lacy, it would mean an opportunity to post a big season and hit free agency again. Lacy will turn 27 on June 2.
Our take: Keep Lacy instead of Christine Michael (who will be a free agent) and James Starks (one more year under contract but a 2.3-yard average this season).
For all the potential Ty Montgomery showed during his half-season at running back, there are two key unknowns. First, can he handle the weekly beating? Second, can he handle pass protection? The answers to both of those questions this season were no. An offseason training as a running back rather than as a receiver could alleviate the injury concerns. Same goes for his inconsistencies in pass protection, where his inexperience was occasionally exploited by Dallas and Atlanta. That’s a phase of the game had to learn on the fly this season. He has the desire to do it, and that’s half the battle.
Still, as the Packers learned this season, you can’t afford to skimp at running back. When Lacy and James Starks went down, the Packers’ running game completely vanished until Montgomery stepped in. The Packers certainly won’t go into next season relying on Montgomery to carry the load. Assuming it’s at the right price, re-signing Lacy would provide a nice one-two punch and allow general manager Ted Thompson to focus on other pressing issues with his top draft picks.
Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at www.twitter.com/PackerReport.