With both Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny under team control, calling running back a need for the Seattle Seahawks is peculiar. However, the Seahawks have shown this was an area they want to address through a couple actions over the past nine months.
The first was their focus on a specific skill set at the position in the lead up to the 2018 NFL Draft. That focus was on pass catching, satellite type backs. The second was the complete lack of use for C.J. Prosise and J.D. McKissic in the offense in 2018—it’s an area they don’t feel comfortable at, evidently.
Their history with that specific role—Robert Turbin, Prosise, Mike Davis—tells us they prefer running backs in a similar mold (in terms of build and athleticism) to their early down RBs to fill the third down role. Davis is a free agent, and should be expected to seek an expanded role elsewhere, meaning the need for a pass catching back still exists.
Two days later, Montgomery was shipped to the Ravens, but he never really got on track in 2018. In seven games with the Packers, Montgomery averaged just under six touches per game, gaining 275 yards from scrimmage with one touchdown. Montgomery’s six games in Baltimore resulted in just over four touches per game, totaling 148 scrimmage yards and no touchdowns. Now, Montgomery will hit the market as a player without a clear position and with his best season coming two years ago.
However, Montgomery remains an intriguing player who is capable of running between and outside the tackles, as well as splitting out wide or catching the football out of the backfield. Importantly to Seattle, he is built like a Seahawks RB at 6-foot and 221 pounds. His pre-draft testing passes Seattle’s thresholds, too, with a 10-foot-1 broad jump and a 40 1/2” vertical.
Montgomery’s profile would check all the boxes for the Seahawks: The frame, athleticism, and ability to contribute on early downs and on passing downs are all there.
Approximate deal: Montgomery is hitting free agency at a dreadful time and shouldn’t command much at all. A player with his skill set is worth a flier though, and with Carson and Penny combining to count just over $3M towards the cap in 2019, Seattle has the room to take the risk. A two-year deal around $5M, with incentives to take it up to $6M—and little-to-no second year guarantees—could work for player and club.
Part of the reason for Montgomery’s lackluster stint with the Ravens is Allen, who has been entrenched as Baltimore’s pass catching RB for four seasons. However, of Allen’s three healthy seasons, 2018 was also his least productive: Just 76 touches and 306 scrimmage yards.
Like Montgomery, Allen would be appealing to the Seahawks because of his physical profile. He possesses the size (6-foot, 221 pounds) and explosiveness (10-foot-1 broad jump, 35 1/2” vertical) Seattle looks for. Having cleared 500 yards rushing in two of his four seasons, Allen could play a relief role on early downs and the lead role on passing downs.
Approximate deal: A potential deal for Allen would look similar to a potential deal for Montgomery—two years, $5M-$6M total. Allen, a much safer option, would likely get higher guarantees (between $2.5M-$3M), while still freeing up the Seahawks to move on in 2020.
This is a different option to the previous two, as Bolden would very much be coming into camp on the outside looking in—and it would mean Seattle does intend to lean on McKissic or Prosise more regularly. Though it doesn’t particularly move the needle, Bolden would be a solid addition.
Bolden became a favorite of Bill Belichick’s during his six seasons with the Patriots, in large part because of his play on special teams. That would be appealing to Pete Carroll and the Seahawks, who continue to try and revitalize a special teams unit that’s regressed considerably.
In seasons where New England’s running back depth was tested, Bolden showed an ability to create on offense, most notably in 2015 when the 29-year-old averaged over nine yards per catch. Bolden would need to make the 53-man roster first, but his size and athletic profile fit the bill.
Approximate deal: Considerably less heralded than Allen and Montgomery, Bolden could be thrown into the mix for cheap, and with little risk attached. Bolden played on a one-year deal worth $850,000 for the Dolphins in 2018, and a similar deal could get him to Seattle in 2019.
The important caveat to any conversation surrounding the Seahawks’ search for a passing down back is Prosise. The oft-injured, much-maligned tailback matches Montgomery and Allen in size and athleticism. In the case of Montgomery, he matches him in tantalizing talent, too. There’s a better-than-decent chance it will never work for Prosise in Seattle, but there’s also a chance the answer to the Seahawks’ search is already on the roster.
Regardless of who ends up filling the role for Seattle in 2019, the Seahawks should be expected to add another legitimate contender for the spot ahead of training camp.