Packers Sign Backup RB Christine Michael

Green Bay will bring back reserve running back Christine Michael next season, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Field Yates.

The Packers hosted Michael today at Lambeau Field, where it looks like he got a first-hand look at some of the hardware in the trophy case.

Michael was drafted by the Seahawks right after the Packers selected Eddie Lacy. The fourth-year running back joined the Packers on waivers after reserve running back Don Jackson sustained a season-ending knee injury in practice.

The only game Green Bay has lost with Michael active on their gameday roster was the NFC Championship Game against the Falcons.

How Michael helps the Packers in 2017

Christine Michael is a gifted, explosive athlete. Just ask his quarterback.

“He’s a change-of-pace back, very quick, very athletic, and he’s happy to be here. I think he’s just looking for an opportunity,” Aaron Rodgers said shortly after Michael joined the team.

During the stretch run with the Packers, Michael was an excellent piece alongside Ty Montgomery and fullback Aaron Ripkowski.

Despite the revolving door at running back, it was a good season for Green Bay running the football. The Packers outgained their opponents 1,701 yards to 1,515 on the ground in 2016, despite Montgomery being the team’s leading rusher with 457 yards.

More importantly, they averaged 4.55 yards per carry, over half a yard more than their opponents.

Does this mean the Packers won’t sign another veteran running back?

Green Bay has been connected with most of the top veteran running backs available on the free agent market, including Adrian Peterson and Jamaal Charles. Signing Michael is a clear signal that the Packers were most likely not enticed by what was available in free agency.

The 26-year-old Michael (he’ll turn 27 in November) is in the middle of his athletic prime, unlike the 32-year-old Peterson or 30-year-old Charles.

As we covered yesterday, the collection of veteran backs still around all have significant flaws:

  • Adrian Peterson, 32 years old: Missed 2015 season because of child abuse indictment and injured for most of the 2016 season. He is not a good blocker or pass catcher.
  • Jamaal Charles, 31 years old: Played 290 snaps in the last two years because of knee injuries. His game depends on speed and elusiveness to make plays.
  • Marshawn Lynch, 31 years old: Retired after 2015 season, when abdominal injury kept him out of 9 games. He has had significant off field issues throughout his career.
  • LeGarrette Blount, 30 years old: Averaged under 4.0 yards per carry last season. He seems to be good only in New England and in the right down and distance.
  • DeAngelo Williams, 34 years old: Thrived in spot duty with Pittsburgh, but well past the age where most running backs start to slow down.

Does this mean the Packers won’t draft a running back?

By our tracking, the player most connected to Green Bay in mock drafts is Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey. Today, we profiled what makes McCaffrey a top draft target and how he fits in with the Packers.

Christine Michael returning to Green Bay should not impact general manager Ted Thompson’s plans in the draft. Signing Michael is exactly the type of move most fans have been clamoring for this offseason – adding veteran depth to positions where injuries have struck in previous years.

The specifics about Michael’s contract are unclear. Based on the free agent market and his history, it’s likely the deal could easily be voided if another running back acquired through the draft or free agency outperforms him in the preseason.