Eddie Lacy is from Louisiana. Like any authentic Cajun, he loves his food.
REALLY loves his food.
“What kinds of things? Eating. A lot,” the Seahawks’ new running back said at the end of the team’s first three days of organized-team-activities practices this week.
That presents a problem for Lacy’s livelihood.
He lost his first NFL job, as lead running back for the Green Bay Packers, in large part because he got too large.
“I’m from Louisiana,” he said Friday. “I like good food.
“Gotta change it.”
After his Packers were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs in overtime at Arizona to end their 2015 season, Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy declared Lacy “cannot play at the weight he was at this year.”
Lacy lasted just five games into the 2016 season. Though he was in better shape and averaged 5.1 yards per carry early, an ankle injury eventually required a two screws, wires and a metal plate inserted into it during a surgery in November. That ended his time in Green Bay.
This offseason he weighed 267 pounds during one of his free-agent visits around the NFL, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.
Seattle signed him to a one-year, prove-it deal in March. Last month, he started proving it. Lacy made it under the first weight the Seahawks prescribed for him, 255 pounds. So he earned his first contract bonus of $55,000.
His next weigh-in is coming up. The target: 250 pounds. It’s coinciding with his latest challenge.
His P90X, 30-day challenge.
“Who’s with me?” Lacy posed this past week to his followers on Twitter, with the hashtag #BeachbodyPartner.
The “Beach Body” challenge was developed by Tony Horton. He’s the founder of P90X, a commercial home fitness program. Lacy’s done plyometric workouts and yoga with Horton. He’s worked out with Horton at the gym guru’s home in Los Angeles. He’s even traveled to Horton’s vacation place in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, to go all in on P90X.
Lacy also has what he calls his “nutrition team” of people supporting him – more specifically, separating him from his Cajun food.
“It’s great, actually. It’s a lot better than it has been,” Lacy said of his weight, which was 231 in 2013 when he was coming out of Alabama.
“And it’s going to continue to get better.”
Lacy has 385,000 reasons to stay in shape. That’s how much cash he can earn in incentive bonuses. He has seven contractually mandated weigh-ins with the Seahawks: in May, June, August, September, October, November and December.
That’s the, um, guts of the one-year, prove-it contract he signed in March with the Seahawks. It is worth $2,865,000 guaranteed, plus potentially $2,685,000 in incentives and bonuses.
Those bonuses include an additional $1.3 million if he rushes for 1,200 yards this year. The weight bonuses are: $55,000 if Lacy weighed in at 255 pounds or less in May, $55,000 if he’s at 250 or below this month and in August and $55,000 each if he weighs 245 pounds in September, October, November and December, during the season.
That 245-pound mark is where Carroll said he thinks Lacy can be at his best for Seattle, though the coach emphasizes he wants Lacy to be big and run big.
“He’s doing great,” Carroll said, adding Lacy won’t be limited at the start of training camp this summer.
“He’s done everything we’ve asked of him. He’s right on it.”
Is playing at 245 cool with Lacy?
“Whatever he likes,” the running back said of his new coach, “is what I like.”
The Seahawks like punishing running backs. They lost their dependable one who epitomized preferred team identity when Marshawn Lynch got hurt in 2015 then retired for one year at the end of that season. That was the same time Lacy was getting his lose-weight-or-else ultimatum in Green Bay.
Lacy doesn’t deny his new motivation with his new team. He’s quite pragmatic about it, in fact.
And creative. He’s posted a challenge for fans to lose weight with him.
“The 30-day challenge, it’s pretty much something else that I can do to help me reach my goal, reach what I have to do to stay in condition and be in better condition,” he said. “And I figured I can get some fans involved, try something new, something different.”
If Lacy can return to the form – in body and in rushing numbers – he had in 2013 and ’14 with Green Bay, he could hit it richer as an unrestricted free agent next March. His weight and fallout with the Packers cost him his first chance at the mega millions of unrestricted free agency. He had to settle for a one-year deal. That’s all anyone would offer a back with a history of injuries and ballooning.
Asked what attracted him to sign with Seattle, Lacy mentioned Chad Morton. Morton has been the Seahawks’ running backs coach the last three seasons. He was Lacy’s position coach with the Packers in 2013.
That was the season Lacy romped for 1,178 yards and 11 touchdowns while making the Pro Bowl and becoming the NFL’s offensive rookie of the year.
“And just coming here and meeting Pete Carroll, seeing the atmosphere and how loose and fun everybody was, even from a coaching-staff standpoint, it kind of fits my personality,” Lacy said. “So knowing you could have fun but go out and still work hard is a pretty cool thing to me.
“The coaches are great. The atmosphere is great. And everything is going as well as it can be.”
As Lacy spoke, a shout came from the quarterbacks and running backs walking off the practice field about 10 yards off to his left: “I love you, Eddie!”
“I love you, too,” Lacy replied, with a chuckle.
If he stays in shape and runs he did in his first two seasons in Green Bay, all of the Pacific Northwest will fall in love with Lacy.
Seattle would have a punishing, potentially season-changing weapon to upgrade what was the league’s 25th-ranked rushing offense last season.
Even before that, Seattle has a back who has the chip on his shoulder Carroll craves in his players.
Thomas Rawls has yet to prove he can last an entire season as the lead back; the 2015 undrafted rookie star broke his ankle that December, the first of three injuries in 12½ months. C.J. Prosise, Seattle’s third-round pick last year, was injured from his first rookie minicamp into January during his rookie season.
Lacy knows the opportunity is there for him – or Rawls, or Prosise, or anyone – to seize.
“That’s a long time from now. Who knows who’s going to be first, who’s going to be second, what opportunities you are going to get?” Lacy said.
“Right now, all I can do is take care of what I have to take care of. … Nothing’s given to nobody. We’ve got to come out. We’ve got to play. We’ve got to earn.”
Carroll said after three OTA practices: “He looks great right now.”
The 26-year-old Lacy looked great in 2013 and ’14. He rushed for more than 2,300 yards and 20 touchdowns in his first two seasons with Green Bay.
He’s rushed for barely 1,000 yards and just three touchdowns the last two seasons. He fell so far out of Green Bay’s plans the Packers had a number 88, wide receiver Ty Montgomery, as their lead back for much of last season.
“I know, as of right now, you are only as good as your last game, your last opportunities,” Lacy said.
Asked how he would describe those last opportunities, his last games, in Green Bay, Lacy was clear. And he was in no mood to elaborate.
“Not as good as they should have been,” he said, sternly.
“Right now, I just want to get myself better, so that if I get put in that situation I can go out and be the best that I can be. And be better than I was.”