Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The rise and fall of Shaun Alexander

They say a running back's performance starts to fall off at age 30, and the Seattle Seahawks are really taking that as gospel.

Shaun Alexander, once a fantasy stalwart, was cut by the Seahawks on Tuesday. The 2005 MVP has seen a steep decline in performance the past two years, and now that Julius Jones and T.J. Duckett are in Seattle's backfield, the writing was on the wall for the 30-year-old Alexander.

He started showing cracks (literally) in the first game of the 2006 season when he bruised his foot and later broke it. Alexander ran for a career-low 716 yards last season and has incurred the wrath of Seahawks fans and fantasy players everywhere for his mediocre output (3.5 yards a carry) and what sometimes seemed like a lack of passion for playing.

Was it just a bad combination of injuries and the toll of 2,176 NFL carries that have made Alexander a shell of what he once was? Or perhaps the Madden Curse had something to do with it? Hard to say. But I'm not counting Alexander out yet. Let's see if the guy can land another job ... In the right situation, I think he can still be a productive player, although it would have to be in some kind of timeshare situation. The days of him being a No. 1 back (he was going in the top 10 of many drafts this past season) are over.

As for Seattle's situation, the bulk of the carries are now sure to go to Jones, signed in the offseason from the Cowboys. He's got much more tread on his tires than Alexander, and although he's taken a backseat to touchdown-maker Marion Barber in recent years, he's proven himself to be at least a capable starting RB. I suspect the Seahawks might try to mimic what the Cowboys did with Jones and Barber, using Duckett as the short-yardage/red-zone guy, but I'm not going there until I see some results. I've seen too many people get burned chasing Duckett the past few years. For now, consider Jones as a low-end No. 1 and Duckett simply as someone to take a flier on.

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