The future of running back Rashaad Penny with the Seattle Seahawks is very much in doubt beyond 2021. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported the Seahawks will not be picking up Penny’s fifth-year option which will make the running back a free agent after the 2021 season.
“The Seahawks are expected to decline the fifth-year option for RB Rashaad Penny, source said,” Rapoport noted on Twitter. “He played just three games last year.”
This does not necessarily mean Penny will not return to Seattle in 2022, but the Seahawks deemed his potential fifth-year $4.5 million salary as too high given his limited production so far in his NFL career. Penny has battled injuries for the past two seasons playing 10 games in 2019 and just three contests in 2020.
The running back had 11 carries for 34 yards last season. Penny’s best statistical season came his rookie year with 85 rushes for 419 yards and two touchdowns.
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The Seahawks Selected Penny with the No. 27 Pick of the 2018 NFL Draft
Part of the disappointment of Penny’s career is the Seahawks used a first-round pick (No. 27 overall) in the 2018 NFL Draft on the running back. Fewer and fewer teams are selecting running backs in the first round making Penny’s selection even more frustrating.
There is also the Chris Carson factor as the team just signed the running back to a long-term deal this offseason. The Seahawks would have faced a difficult decision even if Penny had been able to stay on the field just based on Carson’s production. Carson has well outperformed being a seventh-round selection in the 2017 NFL Draft.
Carroll on Penny’s Return From ACL Injury: ‘He’s Exceeded Our Expectations’
The disappointing news comes after Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll spent much of last season praising Penny’s progress. Penny sustained a season-ending torn ACL in 2019, and Carroll admitted the running back “exceeded our expectations” when he returned in December.
“He exceeded our expectations with his movement and his quickness and all of that,” Carroll noted at the time, per ESPN’s Brady Henderson. “He’s really in good shape. I don’t know what that means for next week, but he looked as healthy as anybody out there. So we’ll take it one shot at a time here, but very, very positive initial return and I know he’s really jacked about it.”
It will be a big season for Penny who is still looking to prove he is a reliable NFL running back. Penny has flashed at various points during his three NFL seasons, but it has been his injuries that have been the concern more than his play. Heading into the offseason, Carroll emphasized his desire to re-establish the running game in 2021.
Carlos Hyde signed with the Jaguars, and the Seahawks did not draft a running back. Penny will have an opportunity to compete to be the team’s preferred running back behind Carson for 2021. The running back could benefit from a full offseason compared to 2020 which was spent rehabbing well into the regular season.