Seahawks Rumors: Jonathan Stewart Visiting Seattle After Panthers Release

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMarch 8, 2018

CHARLOTTE, NC - DECEMBER 10:  Jonathan Stewart #28 of the Carolina Panthers runs for a touchdown against the Minnesota Vikings in the first quarter during their game at Bank of America Stadium on December 10, 2017 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Free-agent running back Jonathan Stewart is visiting with the Seattle Seahawks, NFL Network's Mike Garafolo reported Thursday.

The Panthers released Stewart on Feb. 28 after he played 10 seasons for the team. He ran for 680 yards and six touchdowns on 198 carries in 2017.

Signing Stewart would fit with the Seahawks' offseason plans. Seattle isn't going into complete rebuild mode, but the franchise is clearly in a transitional period. 

ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Wednesday that the Seahawks traded defensive end Michael Bennett to the Philadelphia Eagles. NFL.com's Michael Silver reported Seattle also plans on releasing cornerback Richard Sherman and that the team is amenable to trading safety Earl Thomas for the right price.

The Seahawks are focusing on cost-savings, and taking a chance on an experienced running back at a reasonable price would fall in line with that.

At the same time, Stewart may not bring a whole lot to the Seahawks' running game. He was 44th among qualified rushers in yards per carry (3.4), and Football Outsiders ranked him 44th out of 47 running backs in DYAR (defense-adjusted yards above replacement).

It's easy to see this move going about as well as the Seahawks signing Eddie Lacy last offseason.

Seattle's offensive line is another matter. In 2017, the unit was 31st in adjusted line yards and last in stuffed rate, which measures the "percentage of runs where the running back is tackled at or behind the line of scrimmage," per Football Outsiders. Nearly a third (29 percent) of the Seahawks' rushing attempts failed to break the line of scrimmage.

The Seahawks hired Mike Solari to replace Tom Cable as the team's offensive line coach, which could lead to some improvement. Still, major personnel changes along the line may be the only way to solve the Seahawks' poor blocking.

If that's the case, then whatever Seattle does to upgrade at running back could be largely irrelevant.

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