Packers running back Eddie Lacy is a pending free agent whose 2016 season ended prematurely in October because of a severe ankle injury that ultimately required surgery and had him maneuvering around the locker room on a motorized scooter.
Overweight, underproductive and incapacitated, as he was for the most part the last couple of years, is not the optimal image for a professional athlete to portray to potential employers, in Green Bay and around the NFL.
That might explain why Lacy posted a video of himself running in a pool, ostensibly doing underwater rehab work at the University of Alabama.
Back to the basics, indeed. Look at him run in place for 10 seconds! And he doesn’t even have his shirt on in the pool! He must be in great shape.
After rushing for at least 1,100 yards in each of his first two seasons, Lacy was a huge disappointment the last two years. In 2015, he ran for just 758 yards and was called out publicly by head coach Mike McCarthy for his weight; in 2016, after spending the offseason getting fit on a much-hyped P90X workout regimen, Lacy played in only five games – though he averaged 5.1 yards per carry – before getting hurt. He finished with 71 carries for 360 yards.
The rehab videos are common in the offseason, especially among free agents, because they show – at least on some level – the player appearing healthy and working hard. Lacy, an astutely self-aware and conscientious player, surely knows he needs to do all he can to appeal to teams, which have seen him struggle mightily on and off the field since 2015.
Given the inconsistency over his four-season, Jekyll-and-Hyde career, Lacy is one of the enigmas of the 2017 free agency class. At 26 years old and possessing clear natural talent – besides being a powerful runner, he’s an above-average receiver – he still has plenty of upside; but, according to the Green Bay Press Gazette, he was fined each of the past two seasons for not making weight.
Lacy was well-liked in the Packers’ locker room, including with quarterback Aaron Rodgers, but his conditioning and performance issues have raised questions from fans and media about his commitment.
When healthy and in shape, Lacy is a valuable running back, particularly in Green Bay, which prizes players familiar with the offensive system. Before getting injured last season, Lacy displayed his ability, carrying 17 times for 103 yards (6.1 average) in a Week 3 win over the Lions. The problem, obviously, is that he has not been healthy and in shape for two years.
Last month, McCarthy said, "I'd love to see Eddie back. Eddie is going through a medical situation. I clearly understand his contract situation, so that's really something we'll continue to work through." How does general manager Ted Thompson feel about Lacy?
Following the release of James Starks, Green Bay currently only has one running back on the roster, and it’s Ty Montgomery, who was a wide receiver until midway through last season but has showed promise. After finishing his four-year, $3.4 million rookie deal, Lacy becomes an unrestricted free agent in March, and it’s likely he’ll be looking at short-term offers with low guaranteed money.
Can Lacy prove to the Packers he’s healthy, capable and reliable enough to be worth a new contract? We shall see soon. Here is a breakdown of Green Bay’s free-agent situation.
Born in Milwaukee but a product of Shorewood High School (go ‘Hounds!) and Northwestern University (go ‘Cats!), Jimmy never knew the schoolboy bliss of cheering for a winning football, basketball or baseball team. So he ditched being a fan in order to cover sports professionally - occasionally objectively, always passionately. He's lived in Chicago, New York and Dallas, but now resides again in his beloved Brew City and is an ardent attacker of the notorious Milwaukee Inferiority Complex.
After interning at print publications like Birds and Blooms (official motto: "America's #1 backyard birding and gardening magazine!"), Sports Illustrated (unofficial motto: "Subscribe and save up to 90% off the cover price!") and The Dallas Morning News (a newspaper!), Jimmy worked for web outlets like CBSSports.com, where he was a Packers beat reporter, and FOX Sports Wisconsin, where he managed digital content. He's a proponent and frequent user of em dashes, parenthetical asides, descriptive appositives and, really, anything that makes his sentences longer and more needlessly complex.
Jimmy appreciates references to late '90s Brewers and Bucks players and is the curator of the unofficial John Jaha Hall of Fame. He also enjoys running, biking and soccer, but isn't too annoying about them. He writes about sports - both mainstream and unconventional - and non-sports, including history, music, food, art and even golf (just kidding!), and welcomes reader suggestions for off-the-beaten-path story ideas.