Acquired in a draft-day trade from Tennessee to compete for a starting spot at running back, White didn’t even make it to training camp. The team cited no specific reason in announcing the move, just a general but telling statement from general manager John Schneider.
“It became apparent at this time LenDale was not ready to be a member of the Seattle Seahawks,” Schneider’s statement said. “It just did not appear to be the right fit at this point in our program. We wish LenDale all the best with his future.”
According to the NFL’s website, White faces a possible four-game suspension for violating the league’s drug policy, but that report also stated the Seahawks knew of the possible suspension when trading for him.
Indications were that his commitment — or lack thereof — was the primary factor in Seattle’s decision. Friday, a running back with history under coach Pete Carroll at USC became history in Seattle.
The move wasn’t costly because the Seahawks gave up very little to acquire White. The Seahawks traded down seven spots in the fourth round and nine spots in the sixth round to acquire White and defensive tackle Kevin Vickerson from the Tennessee Titans. Vickerson remains on the team.
Seattle’s acquisition of White showed the lengths the NFL team would go to improve the roster, taking a chance on a former second-round pick who had fallen out of Tennessee’s plans. White’s departure demonstrated there is a limit to what the team would tolerate to keep a potential contributor on the roster.
Dropping White leaves Julius Jones and Justin Forsett as Seattle’s top two running backs able to practice right now. Leon Washington is also on the team, but he is rehabilitating a compound fracture suffered last year with the Jets. The team hopes Washington will be ready for training camp.
White’s early exit was even more surprising because he arrived in great shape after questions about his conditioning for the first four years in the league. He weighed more than 250 pounds at times with Tennessee, but he said Monday he weighed 219 and was actually planning to gain weight before the season.
So what happened?
According to NFL.com, White is facing a possible four-game suspension for violating the league’s drug policy. However, the report stated the Seahawks were aware of the possible looming suspension when they traded for him so a looming suspension did not precipitate his release.
No single incident probably prompted the decision, but a pattern that demonstrated White wasn’t committed to the team’s offseason plans. Even in the limited access reporters are granted in the offseason, White’s involvement in team practices seemed spotty.
In the first three-day minicamp after the draft, White was limited by a sore groin the first two days and sat out the last day entirely. The team has held two practices open to reporters since that minicamp, and White was absent May 17. Afterward, coach Pete Carroll indicated White was tending to issues relating to the flooding in Tennessee, but was returning and would be present for the rest of the offseason.
Given his subsequent release, that very well may have been part of a larger pattern of excuses and absences or tardiness.
Attempts to reach White were unsuccessful, and his agent did not return a message.
White was one nine players Seattle acquired on April 24, the third day of the NFL draft. Three were acquired in a trade.