Seahawks might regret waiving Alex Collins, but it made sense at the time

"I'm thrilled for him. We're thrilled for him," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said of Alex Collins, whom the team waived before this season only to see him star in Baltimore. Charles LeClaire/USA TODAY

RENTON, Wash. -- Fate has not been kind to the Seattle Seahawks' backfield this season.

Eddie Lacy hasn't panned out as a free-agent addition, to put it kindly. Thomas Rawls is still searching for his 2015 form, now doing so at the bottom of the depth chart. C.J. Prosise, to no one's surprise, is on injured reserve. Chris Carson's promising start was spoiled by a broken leg and a high ankle sprain. More recently, Mike Davis has had durability issues of his own.

And in a cruel twist that adds insult to all that injury and underperformance, Seahawks castoff Alex Collins is the NFL's ninth-leading rusher. On the same day Seattle's backfield suffered its latest bit of misfortune -- a shot to the ribs that knocked Davis out of Sunday's loss at Jacksonville -- Collins set a career high with 120 rushing yards on only 18 carries for the Baltimore Ravens.


Seahawks coach Pete Carroll was asked Wednesday if he ever kicks himself over the team's decision to waive Collins before the start of the season.

“I'm thrilled for him. We're thrilled for him," Carroll said. "He was right in the middle of the competition here and other guys were ahead of him. That's just how it turned out."

Perhaps Carroll and the Seahawks regret the move in hindsight, but in their defense, it made plenty of sense at the time. No one questioned the Seahawks when they waived Collins and set their initial 53-man roster with five other tailbacks instead.

Lacy's one-year contract included nearly $3 million in guarantees, so he was going to make the team even after an underwhelming training camp and preseason. Carson was the most impressive member of the group over the summer. Rawls had a better track record in the NFL than Collins, a 2016 fifth-round pick who played sparingly as a rookie. J.D. McKissic's return ability made him a smart hedge for receiver Tyler Lockett, who was coming off a broken leg. And Collins did not show great receiving ability, which would have been needed to unseat Prosise in the third-down role.

Collins was simply the odd man out in a deep backfield that looked as though it could actually be a strength heading into the season. That seemed like the likely outcome for most of the summer. The nail in the coffin might have been when Collins, who had struggled with ball security since college, lost a fumble in the second preseason game.

Collins has fumbled three times with the Ravens but has otherwise been excellent.

He has racked up 825 rushing yards despite spending the first week of the season on Baltimore's practice squad and not starting a game until Week 4. That total nearly equals the 845 yards Seattle has gotten from six tailbacks combined this season. That group has only produced one rushing touchdown compared to five for Collins. His 5.1 yards-per-carry average is tied for third best among eligible running backs, and according to ESPN Ravens reporter Jamison Hensley, Collins is second with 14 runs of 15 yards or longer.

Collins' success, of course, could be a function of being in a better situation. It's entirely possible he wouldn't fare much better with the Seahawks than any other tailback who has tried to run behind their offensive line this season.

They probably wish they could find out.

"I’m thrilled that he’s having a good year," Carroll said. "He’s great, he works really hard, it’s really meaningful to him and he has a good spirit about him. I’m thrilled that he’s doing well.”