2010 NFL Draft: Seahawks Shake Up Backfield with LenDale White, Leon Washington

Chris CluffCorrespondent IIApril 24, 2010

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 20:  Leon Washington #29 of the New York Jets rushes against the New England Patriots at Giants Stadium on September 20, 2009 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Nick Laham/Getty Images

After playing it straight the first two days of the draft, the Seahawks started throwing curveballs on Day Three.

With four picks in the fourth and fifth rounds, they started the wheeling and dealing John Schneider surely wanted to do in the first couple of days, and in the span of two hours they revamped their backfield by trading for LenDale White and Leon Washington.

Coach Pete Carroll eschewed drafting any of his USC players the first two days, but he finally ended up getting one of his former boys when the Hawks acquired White and defensive lineman Kevin Vickerson from Tennessee by trading down in the fourth round, from 104 to 111, and moving down nine spots in the sixth round.

Then the Seahawks made a great little deal by getting Washington and a seventh-rounder from the New York Jets for a fifth-round pick. This deal was available because the Jets had traded up to draft Joe McKnight, Carroll’s back at USC in 2009.

“We’ve been very fortunate,” Carroll told ESPN. “We dipped back into one of my old guys, finding LenDale out of Tennessee to come in and hammer the football the way he knows how.

“And we pulled off a trade that we are really excited about (with) Leon Washington—a guy I watched a lot last year as I watched Mark Sanchez get started,” Carroll said of his former USC quarterback who was the Jets’ first-round pick in 2009.

“Leon was just carrying the load for those guys. ... Our guys who had been with him in the past just raved about his character and his toughness and what he brings to the football team. So we think it’s just a great one-two punch to add to our team now.”

White had become obsolete in Tennessee, where Chris Johnson eclipsed 2,000 rushing yards in 2009. But White is only 25, with just four years in the league. He ran for 1,110 yards in his second season and another 773 and 15 touchdowns in his third. It's just that last year the Titans rode Johnson all the way, and White got only 64 carries.

At USC, White was part of a one-two punch with Reggie Bush, and Carroll and offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates obviously foresee a similar role for him in Seattle.

Washington, 27, was a stellar multi-purpose back and punt returner in his first four years with the Jets. But he suffered a broken leg in Week Seven last season.

Assuming he is healthy, he immediately gives the Seahawks a great return man and would be an upgrade over Justin Forsett as the third-down back.

The acquisitions of White and Washington mean Julius Jones is probably out of the Seahawks’ backfield mix, and it could also mean Forsett loses his spot. Quinton Ganther, signed earlier this offseason, figures to own a secure spot because of his ability on special teams.

Jones is signed through 2011, with salaries of $2.45 million and $2.8 million. Forsett is signed through 2011, at $475,000 in 2010 and $555,000 in 2011.

White and Washington both were restricted free agents, so both are signed only through 2010, at salaries of $1.76 million apiece (second-round-level tenders).

Washington said there has not been any discussion of a new deal.

“Right now, my focus is on just getting healthy, back healthy, 100 percent, getting on the football field and contributing and trying to win football games,” he told Seattle reporters on Saturday. “That’s my main focus, and then when I do that, everything else off the field will take care of itself. I’m just excited about the opportunity that I have.”

Washington, who had a steel rod inserted in his right leg, said his rehab is going well and that he has been running for almost a month.

“It’s going great,” he said. “I’m right on track, been working extremely hard ever since I got injured. Physically, I feel great. I just look forward to getting out there, and having a fresh new start.”