The flexibility and cooperation Eddie Lacy has shown so far as a Seahawk is working both ways.
Seattle’s new running back has done all the team has asked since signing a one-year contract in March. The former NFL offensive rookie of the year with the Green Bay Packers has made weight in monthly checks, earning two bonuses. Lacy has also made his coaches look forward to having a new power back this fall.
“He’s really joined in. He’s been a really good addition,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said last month. “He’s been competing the whole time he’s been here, more so than anybody because he’s had a lot to overcome – some habits and lifestyle -- to do what he’s done. He’s done a beautiful job...
“He’s off to a great start.”
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Lacy has also made his new teammates gush, albeit jokingly.
“I love you, Eddie!” one of them playfully yelled while walking off the field following a practice last month.
“I can’t ask for, like, a better environment,” he said.
In more ways than one.
The Seahawks have given Lacy a very accommodating contract. It’s one that could double the 27-year old’s money in Seattle, and it can potentially set him up for a huge windfall next spring when he is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent again.
If Lacy is so motivated he earns many if not most of his incentives, the Seahawks’ offense will achieve its top goal for 2017. That is, rising from 25th in rushing offense last season, when it fell 22 spots in NFL rankings from 2015. Seattle’s running game has been at or near the top of the league for most of the Carroll era and during five consecutive postseason appearances including two Super Bowls. If the Seahawks are running the ball with Lacy and Thomas Rawls like they did before 2016 with Marshawn Lynch then Rawls, Seattle’s offense becomes championship material again -- instead of a source of frustration Richard Sherman vented about last season, as you may have heard.
It’s not just the $2,865,000 the Seahawks guaranteed Lacy for 2017 despite him coming off season- and Packers-ending ankle surgery in November. It’s not only the $2,685,000 he could earn in incentives and bonuses from the Seahawks this season, either.
It’s how Seattle general manager John Schneider and his contract staff structured those bonuses that makes the prove-it deal actually Lacy-friendly.
The four-year veteran has seven weigh-ins scheduled with the Seahawks, potentially worth $385,000 in his much-publicized bonus clauses to stay in shape.
He’s earned $110,000 of that bonus cash so far, by weighing under 255 pounds in May and under 250 in June. The other five weigh-ins are in August, September, October, November and December.
The only month this year he’s not contractually obligated to step on a scale for the Seahawks is this one. They gave him July off.
That’s pretty cool for Lacy.
This time from the end of Seattle’s mandatory minicamp June 15 and the start of training camp July 30 is the most consecutive days of the league year the players have basically completely off. Though each position coach gave his Seahawks training plans and benchmarks to meet so they don’t return to camp out of shape and ripe for injury in the first days of preseason practices, right now is the players’ time to relax, to travel to beaches and hot spots, to recharge. Lacy gets to enjoy that without the pressure to stay under 250 pounds this month.
Plus, when his weigh-ins resume in August, the Seahawks aren’t asking him to get down to the next five-pound drop, to 245 or under. They wrote into his deal something of a post-vacation grace period; the team made his August target 250 pounds, just as it was in June.
His team weight checks during the regular season in September, October, November and December target 245 pounds. That’s the range in which Carroll has said the team thinks Lacy can be his most effective in Seattle’s running game.
“We want him big,” Carroll said in March.
When I asked Lacy last month if he was OK with Carroll’s 245-pound target for him this season, the indeed big running back smiled and said, “Whatever he likes is what I like.”
So even if he is relaxing some in this month of fireworks and summer barbeques, allowing his weight to get back to, say, 255 pounds or so, no big deal. He has until after the first sweaty, weight-shedding practices of training camp to get to 250 for another $55,000 bonus.
Not that Lacy is providing any evidence of completely chillin’ during this down time. He went out of his way to engage fans on social media about his “Beach Body Challenge” in June, part of the program he’s been following from the P90X home-fitness program.
Last week, the day after the Fourth of July holiday, he used a video I shot of him swiftly running down the sideline on a wheel route catching passes June 6 during OTAs as evidence he is, as his Twitter post said, “feeling season ready”
Lacy reportedly weighed 267 pounds during one free-agent visit in March, 33 pounds above his listed weight with the Packers.
But in his first months as a Seahawk he has looked smooth and happy, if not exactly svelte.
On July 30, Lacy’s expected to start training camp mostly free of limitations from that ankle surgery. His new team that gave him a potentially big win-win deal for 2017 will begin seeing if he plays like he did while a 1,200-yard powerhouse rusher with the Packers in 2013 and ‘14.
“We know he’s a good football player. We know he’s hard to play against,” Carroll said. “He’s got a nature about him that kind of sets the tone because he is so physical and he is so tough when he runs.
“We can’t wait to see when he’s at top speed, full speed, back at camp and we have the pads on and all that. He’s really bought in. He’s been a joy to work with and throughout all this stuff, the football part’s gone great. The off-the-field stuff has been fantastic, communicating with a lot of people and to get him in line with the way he’s going and he’s done a terrific job on every count.”
The incentives and bonuses drew all the attention when Lacy signed this spring.
The Seahawks making them so achievable and flexible for him could pay off hugely this fall.