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Mike Davis probably wants chance to start, Seahawks will probably let him go

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Wild Card Round - Seattle Seahawks v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

On the Seahawks, Mike Davis stands out about as much as a person named “Mike Davis” would. That’s not meant to be a dig on him or people named “Mike Davis” but it’s just one of those super common first name, super common last name combinations. On the field, Davis has had his moments but hasn’t proven to be starter caliber like Chris Carson nor does he have the first round pedigree of Rashaad Penny. Because of that, and because of the fungibility at the running back position where C.J. Anderson could potentially be a Super Bowl MVP in 10 days, it seems as though Seattle will let Davis, an unrestricted free agent, test the market.

What will the market think of him?

Davis was actually a fourth round pick out of South Carolina in 2015, which is fairly high for a running back given the sheer amount of options. He was a two-year starter for the Gamecocks, rushing for 2,165 yards, 20 touchdowns, and 5.4 yards per carry during his sophomore and junior seasons. The San Francisco 49ers drafted him (having also taken his former teammate Marcus Lattimore as a fourth round running back just two years earlier) and put him in the competition with Carlos Hyde during Jim Tomsula’s lone season. Davis rushed 35 times for just 58 yards and went on injured reserve with a hand injury after only six games.

In year two, now under Chip Kelly, he played in eight games and carried it 19 times for 50 yards. He was then waived in May of 2017 and picked up by the Seahawks. Pete Carroll cut Davis but kept him on the practice squad, activating him in November as Seattle had the worst RB duo in NFL history — or at least that’s how I’ll always remember it.

Given an opportunity to be “anyone but Eddie Lacy,” Davis rushed 68 times for 240 yards. His highlight day perhaps being a 64-rushing, 37-receiving day in a big win over the soon-to-be-champion Philadelphia Eagles. But FootballOutsiders barely liked him more than Lacy and Thomas Rawls, the two lowest-rated backs in the NFL in 2017 who were under 100 carries. Davis was -38 DYAR and -29.2% in DVOA.

Negative is bad.

However, in 2018, Davis was given perhaps a bit better blocking and was a complement to a much better running back in Carson. He carried it 112 times for 514 yards, including a 101-yard, two-touchdown day against the Arizona Cardinals. He averaged 4.6 yards per carry and over the final eight games, was over 5 yards per carry. He also finished 19th in DYAR, just six spots behind Carson, and his success rate was actually better than Carson’s. In certain situations, Davis has proven to be a valuable back, and perhaps as a starter he could produce at a level like Alex Collins. Which is to say that he is likely expendable for Seattle and not someone they are likely to regret losing if it comes to that.

That being said, maybe the Seahawks will re-sign him if he can’t get significantly better money elsewhere. I can’t imagine that there will be a lot of money spent on Davis unless a team like, you guessed it, the 49ers pulls another Jerick McKinnon situation.

McKinnon shockingly got $30 million from San Francisco last year, more than any other running back by a wide margin. The next range was a four-year, $19 million deal for Dion Lewis, a three-year, $15.25 million deal for Hyde, a three-year, $12 million deal for Isaiah Crowell, and a three-year, $9.75 million deal for Rex Burkhead.

Crowell had 737 career carries when he hit the market and was actually pretty decent at times. Hyde had 655 carries. Lewis was at 329, but also known as a good receiver. Mike Davis is currently at 234. Burkhead had only 151 career carries at signing but was actually re-signing with the Patriots so they knew what they were getting and what they wanted. I’ll be shocked if the Seahawks feel they need to re-sign Davis to a multi-year deal when they’ve just drafted Penny and still have Carson.

Instead, I think teams are probably looking to spend $1-2 million for one year for a player like Davis. His “competition” on the market looks to be Le’Veon Bell, Kareem Hunt, Tevin Coleman, Mark Ingram, Jay Ajayi, T.J. Yeldon, Anderson, Spencer Ware, Marshawn Lynch, Adrian Peterson, Latavius Murray, Alfred Blue, Alfred Morris, Ameer Abdullah, Ty Montgomery, and so on. There are options.

If Davis does find a good situation and does end up starting, then maybe that one-year deal this year does become a three-year deal next year. With the Seahawks, that is unlikely to happen.