Running back Mike Davis has been officially activated to the 53-man roster of the Seattle Seahawks, fulfilling the wishes of many fans who have been calling for his promotion as a potential spark for the ineffective run game. With seven games left in the regular season, and the Seahawks defense ravaged by injuries to many of its stars, the team will likely be looking to run the ball as much as feasibly possible to shorten the game and reduce the exposure of the defense by limiting the number of plays for which it is on the field. This could potentially create a huge opportunity for Davis if he can star, as some fans expect him to, over the remainder of the season.
The purpose of this piece is not to judge how Davis will produce in replacing C.J. Prosise or looking at whether he will prove to be a better option than Eddie Lacy, Thomas Rawls or J.D. McKissic. Davis was far from stellar in his two seasons for the San Francisco 49ers, so it will be up to his play on the field to show what he can, or cannot bring to the team. The purpose of this piece is to show that while Davis may bring a spark to the team and its running game, adding him to the 53-man roster when it did so may prove to be a double-edged sword for the team.
At the end of the day, the team was in need of a third running back for the upcoming Monday night matchup against the Atlanta Falcons, as it appears Eddie Lacy’s groin injury will not likely be sufficiently healed in time for the game. However, by adding Davis to the 53-man roster with seven weeks to go in the season, it leaves Seattle in a position where it may become extremely difficult for the team to retain his services into 2018 if he indeed proves to be the spark the team is looking for.
With two accrued seasons to his credit, staying on the 53-man roster for the remainder of the season would make Davis a restricted free agent in the offseason. If Davis plays at a high level through the remainder of 2017, he likely prices himself out of the range in which Seattle could afford to tender him as a RFA in 2018, as an early look at the 2018 salary cap situation already puts things fairly tight for the team.
Even an original round tender, which is likely to be just under $2M for 2018, would eat up more of the available cap space than would be desirable to spend on a running back. This is especially important considering that the team has had success in the past bringing in running backs through late round draft picks and undrafted free agent signings, and either of those options would be far cheaper than even the lowest of tenders that could be placed on Davis for 2018.
On the other side, if Davis plays poorly, then he likely doesn’t warrant an RFA tender. Should that be the case and the team non-tenders Davis, then he would become an unrestricted free agent, and would be free to sign with any team.
Thus the timing of the move warrants an eyebrow raise, because if the team had waited just two weeks to move Davis from the practice squad to the active roster, it would be impossible for him to accrue a season in 2017. In that case he would have ended 2017 as an ERFA, and thus would have been much more likely to return to the team in 2018. Obviously there are far more variables at play here than simply Davis’s status going forward and the number of accrued seasons he has at this point, including whether another team was attempting to poach Davis from the Seattle practice squad or any of a number of other scenarios which could have led Seattle to promote him to the active roster.
In any case, while many fans are excited about what Davis might bring to the field as a late season addition to the offense, the value of any spark his presence provides, may be offset by fears of turning right around and watching Davis leave via free agency in the spring. However, the Seahawks do not seem to operate from a position of fear, and the team is obviously willing to call upon Davis to do what he can to help the team between now and New Year’s Eve . . . and beyond.