2011 Free Agents: FB

Make no mistake about it, we have changed offensive systems.  Are we going to be constantly trying to reinvent the offense every year, and more importantly will we need different personnel with different skillsets to do it?  Depending on how many players currently on the roster match up with the new Darrell Bevell/Tom Cable offense, we could be looking forward to another year of rebuilding pains.

Under Jeremy Bates, the Seahawks had little use for a lead-blocking fullback, mainly because of his offense’s reliance on two tight end sets for its blocking.  In light of that, the team wanted a jack-of-all-trades fullback who could create problems for opposing defenses.  Michael Robinson fit that style of offense, and now he is a free agent, which I think is telling of the direction we our headed with our fullback needs.

I think we are going to shift back to the lead-blocking mauler type of fullback, especially since Cable is the running game coordinator and will likely have final say in that department.  It will be interesting to see how Bevell’s version of the west coast offense will operate in Seattle and how well it will mesh with what Cable wants to accomplish on the ground.  Perhaps we’ll end up with a running attack like Holmgren’s, where a versatile fullback who can block well was important. 

Looking at what Bevell’s offense did with the fullback in Minnesota might give us an idea of how he might use them in Seattle, but it’s hard to know for sure since Bevell’s offense in Minnesota also had to fit the whims of head coach Brad Childress.  Any time an offensive coordinator works for an offensive-minded HC, you never know how much freedom the OC has to do things his own way.  But regardless, here are a couple of names the Seahawks might target in free agency:

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Marcel Reece (OAK)

25 yrs old, 6’3″, 240 lbs

Marcel is a restricted free agent, which means we are going to have to give up something for him if we want him to be a Seahawk.  The real question is, will Bevell and Cable want him?  After all, he has a history with Cable, and he’s on the young side for a potential free agent.  To answer that, here’s a couple of quotes from Cable on Reece:

I think there is a skill set there that every week we try to grow it and do something with it, and he’s responded to everything we’ve asked him to do.  The thing that I see him getting better at is truly playing the fullback position in the backfield.  He’s starting to strike people and finishing more blocks.  He’s doing a fine job.

The thing that I am most pleased about is he continues to improve as a blocker, and with the way the running game is coming around, that’s a significant sign that he’s really starting to get it.  In terms of him catching it and running it and all that, that’s extra.  It’s frosting.

As you can see, he really seems to like the guy.  It’s hard to know what Al Davis would want in trade for Reece — knowing him, the asking price could range anywhere from the crown jewels to a bag of cats — but the cost could very well end up being just right for a young, semi-experienced fullback who already understands how a zone-blocking scheme works.  Now, do I want to give up a draft pick for him when the Seahawks need all the talent they can get?  Heck no!  But I am sure Pete Carroll and John Schneider can find something that will distract Davis long enough for them to steal Reece.  Maybe something really shiny?

Naufahu Tahi (MIN)

29 yrs old, 6’0″, 254 lbs

Tahi has been Adrian Peterson’s lead blocker for the past few years, and he’s known as a bulldozer.  However, he is purely a lead blocker — he isn’t a short yardage back, nor is he strong at coming out of the backfield and catching the ball.  Any decision to pursue Tahi will likely hinge on Bevell’s familiarity with him.

John Kuhn (GB)

28 yrs old, 6’0″, 255 lbs

Kuhn has become a fan favorite and a locker room leader in Green Bay.  He’s a lunch pail, blue collar player who provides versatility on offense and consistency on special teams.  The Packers tend to take care of their own, so this big guy may not hit the market, but if he does he could fit in to the new offense well, especially since the Packers also run a zone-blocking scheme.

Other Notable Free Agents (list courtesy of Football’s Future)

Le’Ron McClain (BAL)
Vonta Leach (HOU)
Jason Snelling (ATL)
Brian Leonard (CIN)
Lawrence Vickers (CLE)
Jerome Felton (DET)
Korey Hall (GB)
Lex Hilliard (MIA)
Tony Richardson (NYJ)
Heath Evans (NO)
Ahmad Hall (TEN)

The Seahawks are going to need a fullback, and if they don’t draft a kid who is everything they hope for in a FB I expect them to go after one of the guys listed here.  At this point, Michael Robinson hasn’t even been rumored to be brought back.  He seemed to do well last season with what he was asked to do and offered a lot of versatility to the offense, but I am not sure he is the type of fullback the team needs now. 

I have a fondness for watching fullbacks knock the snot out of linebackers trying to plug the running lane, so I am interested to see the direction the Hawks go on this one.  Ideally, I’d like to see Marcel Reese get a shot, especially if the Raiders only want a 7th rounder for him.  Remember, he’s almost the same age as a lot of the rookies coming out this year, and unlike them he already has NFL experience.