KIRKLAND, Wash. (AP) -Veteran running back T.J. Duckett signed a five-year contract with the Seahawks on Wednesday, as the Seahawks continued their quest to improve their sickly running game of last season.
The defending four-time NFC West champions announced only that Duckett, a 27-year-old former first-round pick who played last season for Detroit, had signed a multiyear contract. But the former Michigan State star told The Associated Press Tuesday night that the deal was for five seasons.
For those who view the signing as the beginning of Seattle's phasing out of former league MVP Shaun Alexander, the two have far different running styles that could complement each other. Duckett is more of an inside runner than Alexander, who likes to bounce runs outside or cut back, so Duckett addresses Seattle's need to improve what has recently been an anemic short-yardage offense.
Seattle also has Maurice Morris, a slashing runner and good receiver.
Duckett has 2,642 career yards rushing and 36 touchdowns for Atlanta, Washington and the Lions. When he wasn't slowed by injuries, Duckett was productive in limited opportunities in Detroit's pass-happy offense. Last season, he carried the ball 65 times for 335 yards.
Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren has stated his top priority this offseason is improving a running game that was one of the league's worst in 2007. The Seahawks signed former Pro Bowl guard Mike Wahle from Carolina with a contract potentially worth $20 million, with $5.5 million in guarantees, and then re-signed right tackle Sean Locklear. That left no upfront money to retain valuable kicker Josh Brown, who signed a free agent contract with St. Louis.
The Seahawks has also hired former Kansas City offensive coordinator Mike Solari as offensive line coach this offseason.
Seattle's running game has significantly fallen off since Alexander was the league MVP for the 2005 season. That was when he rushed for 1,880 yards and 27 touchdowns as the Seahawks reached the Super Bowl.
Alexander has been injured and ineffective since, and Seattle has averaged just 4.0 yards per carry in 2006 and 3.8 last season.
Duckett, the 18th overall draft choice of the Falcons in 2002, ran for 3,379 yards at Michigan State. His best NFL season came in 2003, when he rushed for 779 yards and 11 touchdowns with Atlanta.

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