Seahawks sign RB Julius Jones

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) -- Now that the Seattle Seahawks have signed Julius Jones, Shaun Alexander wants to know what’s going on.

The four-time defending NFC West champions announced Monday they had signed Jones, the deposed starting running back in Dallas, to a multiyear contract. Terms were not released, but it is reportedly a four-year deal.

Jones’ arrival is further proof coach Mike Holmgren wasn’t just appeasing the fan base when he said fixing Seattle’s anemic running game was a priority for 2008. Seattle averaged just 4.0 yards per carry in 2006 and 3.8 last season.

It is also the second running back Seattle has signed in the last week, after T.J. Duckett. Two reasons for Alexander to worry.

Jim Steiner, the agent for the 2005 league MVP, told The Associated Press on Monday evening that he will meet with Seahawks executives about what future—if any—Alexander has in Seattle.

“We’re going to have some discussions with the Seahawks in the next few days,” Steiner said in telephone interview. “It will be about the running back situation there.”

Steiner declined to comment whether the Seahawks have asked Alexander to restructure the $62 million, eight-year contract he signed before the 2006 season. That was weeks after he set a then-NFL record with 28 touchdowns and a franchise record of 1,880 yards rushing.

Alexander, 30, is scheduled to earn $4,475,000 in 2008. He has received $18.8 million in base salary so far on his contract, which Steiner at the time said was the richest ever for an NFL running back. Alexander has also received about $13.5 million guarantees through signing and other bonuses.

Alexander has had two injury-filled and ineffective seasons since signing his deal, including last season in which he ran for just 716 yards in 13 games. That was his lowest total since he replaced Ricky Watters as Seattle’s lead back in 2001. So his trade value is lower than ever.

There appears to be no place for Alexander with the Seahawks, in their backfield or on their payroll.

They are reportedly due to pay $5.5 million to Jones in ‘08 as part of a new $16 million contract. Duckett, who signed a five-year deal, and Maurice Morris are scheduled to get $1 million each. And Seattle still has two other running backs, Leonard Weaver and David Kirtman.

Duckett’s signing was thought to potentially be a complement to Alexander to help Seattle mostly in short-yardage situations the Seahawks’ have struggled with the last two seasons. But Jones’ deal appears to be an indictment of Alexander.

Jones, who will turn 27 in August when Alexander turns 31, spent his first four seasons in Dallas. In 2006, he had the only 1,000-yard season of his career, when he rushed for 1,084 yards and four touchdowns. Last season, Marion Barber became a Cowboys Pro Bowler while supplanting Jones, who rushed for only 588 yards and two touchdowns, the lowest numbers of his career.

Jones is capable pass catcher, with 35 receptions in 2005 and 23 last season. Alexander’s pass catching has been a liability, even before he wore a cast on a broken wrist throughout the ‘07 season.

Seattle has dedicated this offseason to remodeling its running game, hiring former Kansas City offensive coordinator Mike Solari as offensive line coach and signing former Pro Bowl offensive guard Mike Wahle.

The end of the Shaun Alexander era may be next.


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