Marshawn Lynch has been the workhorse that has driven the Seattle Seahawks offense the last several seasons.
The Seahawks have consistently run the ball as much as any team in the league. Lynch has carried at least 285 times and rushed for at least 1,200 yards in each of the last three seasons. Their commitment to the running game helps set up the play-action passing attack that Russell Wilson manages so well.
However, Lynch is getting older and the Seahawks may be looking to take some of the load off “Beast Mode” next season.
According to Terry Blount of ESPN.com, offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said the Seahawks will spread the carries around more this fall.
“We are going to be running back by committee,” Bevell said at a Town Hall event for season ticket holders. “
One of the reasons Seattle would be more open to a committee at running back is due to second-year back Christine Michael.
Michael essentially redshirted for the Seahawks last season. He was Seattle’s first draft selection last year, being selected with the 62nd overall pick of the 2013 draft. However, he was active for just four games as the Seahawks preferred the stability of Lynch and backup Robert Turbin.
But Michael’s combination of speed and power still has the Seahawks intrigued and he is expected to have a bigger role this season.
“We really like what Christine Michael is doing right now,” Bevell said.
Michael rushed for 201 yards on 40 carries in three preseason games last August. Head coach Pete Carroll has also praised Michael during OTAs.
“He’s just a million miles ahead of where he was in terms of understanding what we want scheme wise, pass protection wise, route wise, and we know he’s a natural runner,” Carroll said. “He’s got explosive talent and we just want to get him fit in. By the end of preseason he should be just a real comfortable part of this football team.”
The Seahawks are also approaching a time where they may have to move on from Lynch and 2014 could be his last season with Seattle. He has a cap hit of $9 million in 2015 and the team could save $7.5 million by releasing him after this year. He’ll also be 29 years old for the 2015 season.
With the running back position getting paid less and less around the league and Wilson expected to earn a contract extension that could surpass the one given to Colin Kaepernick by the San Francisco 49ers, a $9 million running back may no longer make sense for Seattle.
Finding out if Michael could handle the load as Lynch’s replacement would be a wise decision by the Seahawks. That may be the biggest reason Seattle could turn to running back-by-committee next season.