With the NFL free agency less than a month away we still have no indication as to whether Eddie Lacy will be a Packer next season. The injuries and weight concerns have been the surrounding narrative for Lacy the past two seasons. He was starting to look like the Lacy of old through five weeks of 2016 but an ankle injury pushed him to the IR and required surgery. The Packers were in desperate need of a rushing threat so they turned to kick return specialist Ty Montgomery who played wide receiver his entire collegiate and professional career. The element of surprise by having Montgomery in the backfield kept defenses guessing. Is he going to bust through a hole or catch a quick hitter from Rodgers for quick easy yards? Montgomery’s speed and versatility is becoming a better fit for the tempo of the Packers offense than a heavy footed Lacy.
When Lacy was placed on injured reserve the Packers were desperate for a replacement. They traded for Kniles Davis who lasted only two weeks and signed Christine Michael off waivers from Seattle. Neither player was or is the answer for the Packers going forward.
However, it appears Montgomery is. His impact on the offense was felt immediately. He averaged 5.9 yards per rush in 2016 compared to Lacy’s career average of 4.4. The Packers offense won more time of possession battles and worked their way up and down the field more fluidly with Montgomery in the backfield. Instead of waiting for Lacy to catch his breathe after a pin ball run for 8 yards, Montgomery was quick to the huddle to catch a pass out of the backfield and keep the defense on its heels. Something Lacy is not capable of.
Expect Lacy to want to be paid for his body of work the past four years. His ability to fight for yards after contact and make plays out of nothing are second to none. But, his weight and health are a concern for possible suitors. The best the Packers could do for Lacy is offer him a one year deal to see if he can prove he belongs. Can he keep his weight down and is his style of running something the Packers can lean on?
These questions have to be answered in a short period of time and Ted Thompson may not want to wait. Thompson is signed to a contract that will expire at the of the 2018 season. Ted wants to win now and Montgomery is less of a gamble.
Sticking with Montgomery will give the Packers a chance to figure what they want to do with their run game while he is still on his rookie contract. It is highly possible they will draft a running back as well to have more solidarity behind Montgomery.
The future will prove that Montgomery is the perfect fit given his ingenuity. He can run between the tackles, catch passes out of the backfield, and line up as a wide receiver. A consummate triple threat. Lacy was a pleasant surprise. His size was intriguing to watch take handoffs but his skills are best suited elsewhere.
___________________Brandon Carwile was a Cheesehead at birth. His dad grew up attending games at Lambeau and passed on the legacy. He has covered the Packers for over five years and currently works with packerstalk.com. Find him on twitter at @PackerScribe.