One day before the team must release 22 players, the always-searching Seattle Seahawks appear instead to be on the verge of adding to their roster with multiple reports coming Friday evening that the club will sign free agent running back Fred Jackson.
ESPN's Adam Schefter was the first to report Jackson would be signing with Seattle. Jackson's agreement
Schefter's report preempted news that the Seahawks would be releasing backup running back Robert Turbin, who suffered a high ankle sprain in the Seahawks' third preseason game August 29 at San Diego.
The news is heartbreaking for Turbin, who'd worked hard to overcome offseason hip surgery. While unfortunate, the news isn't surprising. Pete Carroll characterized Turbin's injury as "legitimate" and NFL.com's Ian Rapoport tweeted that the 25-year old back would be out for nearly a third of the season
The injury forced Seattle's hand a bit with questions about Christine Michael's reliability as Marshawn Lynch's primary backup for nearly a third of the season.
As noted earlier, Jackson, 34, is a good fit in Seattle's offense, specializing in the passing game as a receiver and blocker. The 6-1, 215 pound Jackson may not possess Michael's agility or Turbin's bulk but he's still arguably a more efficient runner than either of them, setting up his blocks and making decisive cuts that lead to consistent production. Given the early struggles anticipated with Seattle's re-shuffled offensive line, having a back with Jackson's versatility in the passing game would be a huge gain especially in the Week One opener against the St. Louis Rams and their fearsome defensive line. Turbin has resided as Seattle's primary backup to Lynch in large part because the Seahawks trust him much more than Michael on passing downs.
Jackson was with the Bills during Lynch's tenure and remains very close to Seattle's star. Despite starting just nine games a year ago in Buffalo's muddled backfield, Jackson led the team in both rushing (525 yards on 141 carries) and in receptions (66 for 501 yards).
According to CBSSports.com's Jason LaCanfora, however, John Schneider and the Seahawks aren't finished.
Michael's electric moves and acceleration are clear whenever he's on the field, including last night vs. the Raiders. Seattle's commitment to Lynch and Michael's tendency to freelance, however, have largely kept him off the field since Seattle made him the 62nd overall pick of the 2013 draft.
Michael could be seen as dispensable due to the emergence of undrafted free agent Thomas Rawls, one of several players on the bubble who starred against the Raiders.
The 5-9, 215 pound Rawls runs with surprising power, aggressively striking would-be tacklers and driving through contact because of his leg drive, low center of gravity and pad level. He doesn't possess elite top-end speed but accelerates quickly to gain yardage in chunks and can elude defenders in tight quarters with impressive jump cuts.
The addition of Jackson, release of Turbin and possible trade of Michael would certainly shake up my projected Final 53 but even before today's reports, Rawls made the cut for me.
It will be fascinating to see what other moves Schneider, Carroll and the Seahawks have in store with at least as many questions along the offensive line, wide receiver, and secondary as what it had at running back... at least entering the day.