After a few weeks of free agency, the momentum it gained from its first few days has dwindled down. That does not mean great deals aren't still taking place in the league. On Friday for example, the Packers agreed to terms with running back James Starks after the team missed out on Matt Forte, who they were rumored to be interested in. Starks was not without interest though, as he had an official visit with the Patriots and was also rumored to be in talks with the Dolphins as well. There are a number of reasons behind why James Starks was the right choice all along for the Packers to sign.
First, as a six year veteran in the NFL (all with the Packers), Starks has plenty of tread left on his tires. He has 661 touches (rushing attempts & receptions combined) so far in his career, averaging just over 110 a season. To put it in perspective, Matt Forte has 2,522 touches in his eight year career, which averages out to just over 315 touches per season. That is a huge difference in average touches per season and also career as well. Now, it's fair to mention that Matt Forte was a heavily used "bell-cow" running back for the Bears during time there, while Starks has been really nothing more than a #2 running back who has filled in as a starter when the #1 running back missed any time. But Matt Forte has also, just from numbers alone, been used much more heavily in his career and may not have as much "gas left in the tank" as Starks does.
Secondly, Starks has played all six years of his NFL career with the Packers and he has played with the same head coach (Mike McCarthy) the entire time. There is definitely an element here of familiarity with already having knowledge of the only playbook he has had to learn while in the NFL. This is definitely a plus for both sides as Starks wouldn't have to get used to another team, another city, another group of players, coaches, front office, and a new playbook as well. For the Packers, they don't necessarily have to worry about bringing someone new in who may have no clue about the type of system Green Bay runs.
Third, when seeing the type of contracts that Lamar Miller received from Houston (four years, $26 million), and Chris Ivory got from Jacksonville (five years, $32 million), re-signed Starks for only two years and $6 million ($3M per year on average) was probably the best outcome from a financial standpoint. This provides coverage for the Packers for the next two seasons if Eddie Lacy does not work out, whether it be from a weight, health or production standpoint. Lacy will be an unrestricted free agent after the 2016 season and if he does not improve - or even vice versa, if he performs well and might prove to be too costly in free agency - the Packers will still have Starks as a veteran backup if they need to sign or draft a new starting running back.
Lastly, other than missing his senior season of college and the first part of his rookie year due to a shoulder injury, Starks has not dealt with any major injuries in his career. Eddie Lacy on the other hand has had concussion issues in the past that leaves his health in question if he were to ever suffer another concussion or head injury. Starks has remained for the most part, healthy during his career and also does not carry workload issues, as explained above.
Overall, this is a good signing for the Packers as it brings back someone extremely familiar with their system, a rather cheap back-up running back who has been able to step in before to help lighten the load on the starter/fill in when needed. Having Starks back for the next few seasons provide solid depth and a good back-up in case Eddie Lacy is not able to improve from last season. As much as Ted Thompson is stubborn when it comes to signing free agents outside of Green Bay, he made a good choice here in keeping one of his own.