Bumpus: What Seahawks RB Rashaad Penny must do to stick around past ’21
The Seahawks were able to re-sign star running back Chris Carson to a two-year deal this offseason, and Carson’s new deal may not impact any other player more than Rashaad Penny.
Penny, Seattle’s first-round pick in 2018, is set to enter the last year of his rookie contract unless the Seahawks pick up his fifth-year option, which seems unlikely at this point in time for the fourth-year running back.
Since entering the NFL, Penny has had some nice moments with big runs, but he’s also been inconsistent and had his share of injuries, most notably a torn ACL suffered late in 2019 that caused him to miss all but three games in 2020.
Now, Penny enters the 2021 season needing to show the Seahawks he can be part of their long-term plans and that he’s deserving of a new deal.
But what must he do to stay in Seattle after this upcoming season? Former NFL receiver Michael Bumpus broke it down Wednesday morning on 710 ESPN Seattle’s Danny and Gallant.
“This is a big year for him, man,” Bumpus said. “First year (he had) 400 yards, second year (was) 300, last year he only played in three games. His main thing is availability. He’s never played a full season. He’s been banged up.”
Penny played in 14 games as a rookie, but that number decreased to 10 in 2019 and then just three last season. So aside from staying on the field, what does Penny need to do for the Seahawks to keep him in the fold beyond 2021?
“I think he needs to hover around 500 or 600 yards,” Bumpus said. “He has to be a solid No. 2 (back). Chris Carson is going to go for his 1,000 (yards), I firmly believe that. If (Carson) plays 14 games, I think he’ll get there. Penny has to be able to come off the bench and make at least five big plays this year.”
Those big plays, Bumpus said, need to be explosive runs of 20 or more yards. Penny is a home-run threat when he gets the ball, with a career-long run of 58 yards back in 2019.
“If he gets five runs of over 20 or 25 yards, that just means he’s comfortable in this offense, he’s seeing the gaps, he’s feeling the game,” Bumpus said. “So he needs 500 to 600 yards and four to six touchdowns. If he can do that and then Carson gets his 1,000 yards, they’re going to look at these two and be like, ‘OK, we’ve got something to work with here for at least the next two to three years.'”
And if Penny can get to that 500-600 yard range? Bumpus thinks Carson could eventually “pass the torch” to Penny in terms of the No. 1 running back role.