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Danny O'Neil covers the Seahawks for The Seattle Times.

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March 11, 2008 1:49 PM

The decline of the times

Posted by Danny O'Neil

Shaun Alexander's agent, Jim Steiner, isn't taking calls on Tuesday. The person who answered the phone at his office said there was nothing new to report.

So the holding pattern that began when the Seahawks agreed to terms with free-agent running back Julius Jones continues and it appears that Seattle's offseason plan of improving the running game will result in the ouster of the franchise’s leading rusher.

He is 30, coming off his lowest rushing total since he was a rookie backing up Ricky Watters. What are the chances he bounces back? Not too good, according to history. Oh, there are some examples now. Jerome Bettis bounced back from a steep decline in 2002 to be a productive short-yardage back the next three seasons. Corey Dillon did the same in 2006 after his production took a nose dive the year before.

But the Web site FootballOutsiders.com found that since 1978 there have been 10 different running backs who at age 28 or older saw their rushing average decline by at least 1 yard per carry from the previous season. For most, that was the writing on the wall that the end was near. Here's a link to the story on FootballOutsiders.com.

I took those 10 backs and outlined their declines:

Player Year Age Carries Yards TDs Avg. Decline
Barry Sanders 1998 30 335 2,053 11 6.1  
Detroit 1999 31 343 1,491 4 4.3 -1.8
  2000 32 Retired
Shaun Alexander 2005 28 370 1,880 27 5.1  
Seattle 2006 29 252 896 7 3.6 -1.5
  2007 30 207 716 4 3.5 -0.1
James Brooks 1990 32 195 1,004 5 5.1  
Cincinnati 1991 33 152 571 2 3.8 -1.3
  1992 33 18 44 0 2.4 -1.4
Brooks played 4 games with Cleveland, 2 with Tampa Bay in '92 and did not play in the NFL again.
Curtis Martin 2004 31 371 1,697 12 4.6  
N.Y. Jets 2005 32 220 735 5 3.3 -1.3
  2006 33 Retired
Randy McMillan 1985 27 190 858 7 4.5  
Indianapolis 1986 28 189 609 3 3.2 -1.3
  1987 29 No longer in the NFL
Jerome Bettis 2001 29 225 1,072 4 4.8  
Pittsburgh 2002 30 187 666 9 3.6 -1.2
  2003 31 246 811 7 3.3 -0.3
Bettis scored 13 TDs in '04 and 9 in '05.
Corey Dillon 2004 29 346 1,635 12 4.7  
New England 2005 30 209 733 12 3.5 -1.2
  2006 31 199 812 13 4.1 +0.6
Dillon did not play in '07.
Warrick Dunn 2005 30 280 1,416 3 5.1  
Atlanta 2006 31 286 1,140 4 4.0 -1.1
  2007 32 227 720 4 3.2 -0.8
Released by Atlanta, signed by Tampa Bay this offseason.
Mike Anderson 2000 27 297 1,487 15 5.0  
Denver 2001 28 175 768 4 3.9 -1.1
  2002 29 84 386 2 4.6 +0.7
Gained 1,014 yards for Broncos in 2005, a 4.2 per carry average.
Marion Butts 1993 27 185 746 4 4.0  
  1994 28 243 703 8 2.9 -1.1
  1995 29 71 185 4 2.6 -0.3
Butts playd for San Diego in '93, New England in '94 and Houston in '95.

 

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Posted by StevefromIdaho

3:24 PM, Mar 11, 2008

Any news on the Trufant talks? How are the talks for a long-term deal coming along? Does he have any suitors? Since we have several RB's in the fold, why not focus on keeping Trufant?

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