Ex-Cardinal Edgerrin James is a motivated addition for Seattle Seahawks

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Ex-Cardinal Edgerrin James is a motivated addition for Seattle Seahawks
(Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

Three years ago, the Seahawks and Indianapolis Colts both faced the same decision: What do we do with our franchise running back who is about to become a free agent?

Well, the Colts let Edgerrin James go to Arizona, and the Seahawks gave Shaun Alexander a $62 million contract to stay. James had a couple of good years for Arizona, and Alexander had a couple of bad ones for Seattle. But both were on the street this off-season, a couple of over-30 running backs no one wanted.

Until today.

There’s probably no question what Alexander thinks about the Seahawks signing James instead of bringing their former league MVP back. But it doesn’t matter what this means to the former Seahawk running back.

The important questions are: What does the addition of the 31-year-old mean to the current backs? And why did president Tim Ruskell feel he needed to sign James to a deal reportedly worth $2 million in 2009?

Assuming Julius Jones’ thigh injury isn’t more serious than a bruise and won’t keep him out for long, it’s likely that James is being brought in to bump T.J. Duckett as the Hawks’ short-yardage guy. Either way, James would be an upgrade over Duckett, who simply does not run as powerfully as his size would indicate. James has always been a tough inside runner and, at 31, surely still has enough in the tank to spell Jones.

James spent the past three years in Arizona, but he was hardly used last season. After getting 92 carries in the first five games, he was barely seen for the next 10 weeks, getting just 28 touches. The Cardinals used him more in the playoffs, but it was a light year for him.

Then the Cardinals jerked him around this offseason. Rather than release him early so he could try to catch on with another team, the Cards held him until after they had secured Chris “Beanie” Wells in the first round of the draft.

So there’s the big bonus in this signing: James will be amped to play his former team twice, and show the Cardinals what a big mistake they made in benching him and then screwing him in free agency. It’s a pretty good guess that he’ll be on "edge" when he plays the Cardinals.

How about trading a kicker for some line help?

The James signing was a totally unexpected move by Ruskell, but the team president’s next move should be pretty obvious: acquiring some depth for the offensive line.

The news that center Chris Spencer is out for at least a month with a torn quadriceps means the Hawks are down to six healthy, experienced guys up front: LT Sean Locklear, LG Rob Sims, C Steve Vallos, C/RG Max Unger, RG Mansfield Wrotto and RT Ray Willis. Odds are Vallos will start at center and Unger at right guard, although it could be Unger/Wrotto. But the Hawks need some help ASAP.

Left tackle Walter Jones is expected to miss at least the first game, and Locklear and Willis have not been known for their constitution, so the Hawks could use a good backup (someone better than Kyle Williams).

This would be a good time to dangle kicker Brandon Coutu or Olindo Mare to any team that has a surplus of O-linemen.

Who would have thought the Seahawks would actually miss Pork Chop Womack, who now is Cleveland’s starting right guard?

Roster ramifications

With Jones and Spencer both injured but not going on IR, the Hawks will have to carry at least one more lineman for depth, which means they will have to make a cut elsewhere that they otherwise might not have made.

If they keep only one extra lineman, odds are it will come at the expense of the receiver position, where they will carry five instead of six.

If they keep two extra O-linemen, that would probably hurt Nick Reed’s chances of making the team as the Hawks probably would have to go with eight D-linemen.

Two former sports reporters freed from the constraints of traditional print media write about the hot topics on both the Seattle and national sports scenes. No deadlines, no word count, no press box decorum — we're Outside The Press Box.

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