There are three big winners to the Seattle Seahawks’ trade of Christine Michael.
Marshawn Lynch. His good pal Fred Jackson.
And Thomas Rawls.
The Seahawks on Sunday finally found a taker for their coaches’ frustration the past two years: the running back-needy Dallas Cowboys. The Seahawks traded their talented-but-maddening second-round draft choice in 2013 from Texas A&M back to the Lone Star State for a conditional, late-round draft choice in 2016, dependent on how many games Michael plays for the Cowboys this season.
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The trade was the other roster move beyond the 22 they made Saturday to set the initial, 53-man regular-season roster the Seahawks needed to make so they can announce (soon) the signing of Jackson. Buffalo released the free-agent running back last week, and he took a physical with the Seahawks on Tuesday.
Dealing Michael means the Seahawks essentially swapped him for Jackson, the Bills’ former lead runner — minus Robert Turbin. The team placed its former No. 2 running back on injured reserve Saturday with a high-ankle sprain.
In empirical terms the Seahawks are shedding 24- and 25-year-old running backs with 1,152 combined career yards rushing and two total touchdowns — and gaining a 34-year old role-player backup to Lynch who has 5,646 career yards rushing, 2,640 yards receiving and 37 total touchdowns.
As much as those numbers or the fact Jackson is an exquisite receiver out of the backfield who will work in Seattle’s screen game and more on third downs, these moves are a continuation of the Seahawks’ 2015 Marshawn Lynch Care Package. First in March came the additional $5 million guaranteed for this year in Lynch’s two-year contract extension through the ’17 season. Now this, shedding two of their previous eventual heir apparents to add the 29-year-old big guy’s biggest pal from their days together in the same Bills backfield.
Don’t underestimate how much the Seahawks are trying to make Lynch happy and motivated for what could be his final run at another Super Bowl title this season.
And don’t underestimate what they think of Rawls, either.
The undrafted rookie free agent played three seasons at Michigan and a final one at Central Michigan last year. He was unlikely to clear waivers in the period that ended Sunday and get onto Seattle’s practice squad. Not after he rushed for 87 yards behind a second- and third-team line Thursday night in Seattle’s exhibition finale against Oakland to cap an impressive preseason of hard running and breaking tackles.
But this was about more than Rawls avoiding waivers. The trade of Michael and putting Turbin on injured reserve shows the Seahawks want to have Rawls under club contract control for years — not so much for now but for when Lynch decides he’s done playing.
The 5-foot-9, 215-pound, power-packed Rawls was a much-hyped, all-state back in high school out of Flint, Michigan. He rushed for 333 yards in three seasons at the University of Michigan before he transferred in 2013 as a graduate to Central Michigan. At CMU in 2014 he romped for 1,103 yards and 10 touchdowns in nine games.
Rawls played through knee pain late last season before missing the Bahamas Bowl with what the Chippewas announced was an “academic issue.” CMU suspended him for two games in September after he was facing felony charges in a purse-snatching incident in a Michigan casino. According to the Mount Pleasant Morning Sun, Rawls eventually entered a guilty plea to a high court misdemeanor of attempted larceny in a building. He was sentenced to a year of probation, 104 hours of community service to be completed in nine months, plus fines and restitution costs.
In June, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll talked about Rawls more than head coaches of Super Bowl teams usually talk about undrafted free-agent runners who played nine games in the Mid-American Conference the previous college season.
“I’ve studied Thomas a lot and I love his style of running,” Carroll said. “He’s really a head-knocker. He really goes after guys. When you get to see him with the pads on you’ll see how physical he is.
“He had play after play in college of just smacking people and running and breaking tackle. He’s showed very good feet and caught the ball well. He’s going to be a very willing blocker and he was a real bright spot. He really jumped out at us, knowing that his most exciting dimension hasn’t even been seen yet. ... It will be really fun to see him when we start playing ball.”
That could be in the opener Sept. 13 at St. Louis.
EX-HUSKIES WILLIAMS, SMITH ON PRACTICE SQUAD
Kasen Williams and Kevin Smith wanted more. They wanted to be on the Seahawks’ 53-man roster, of course.
But the two former Washington Huskies and the other five who are on Seattle’s initial practice squad — tight end RaShaun Allen, tackle Will Pericak, linebacker Eric Pinkins, tackle Terry Poole and running back Rod Smith — shouldn’t get discouraged. Or too settled.
The Seahawks’ practice squad is a constantly evolving tryout team. Last season four of the initial eight players on the practice squad were promoted and played in a regular-season game: Allen, wide receiver Chris Matthews, safety Terrance Parks and safety Steven Terrell.
Three of 2014’s original practice-squad players are now on the Seahawks’ 53-man active roster for the start of this regular season: Matthews, Terrell and B.J. Daniels.
Matthews was on and off the practice squad in six different transactions last regular season. Then he made his first four NFL catches for a 109-yard receiving night with his first career touchdown in the Super Bowl.
Seattle made 42 transactions on and off the practice squad in 17 weeks last regular season. That doesn’t count the signings off of other teams’ practice squads, or Seattle losing two players off its practice squad to other team’s active rosters.
As of Sunday evening the team has three more spots to fill on the practice squad. Multiple reports Sunday said now-former New England Patriots rookie cornerback Justin Coleman will be one addition to Seattle’s 10-man practice squad.
The team returns to practice Monday, has an off day Tuesday, then begins game preparations in earnest Wednesday for the opener. So if Kam Chancellor wants to end his holdout in time to still get ready for the regular season starting it would behoove him to report by Wednesday. There’s no end in sight to the impasse, however. Dion Bailey and perhaps Kelcie McCray, the safety Seattle acquired from Kansas City on Saturday for a fifth-round pick, will prepare to be Chancellor’s fill in against the Rams. … The Seahawks had a league-high four of its waived players from Saturday claimed Sunday: DT T.Y. McGill, by Indianapolis; DE Obum Gwacham, by New Orleans; S Ronald Martin, by the New York Jets; S Keenan Lambert, Chancellor’s half-brother, by Oakland.