Report: With Rashaad Penny’s injury, Seahawks have tried signing Devonta Freeman
The Seahawks were hit hard by injuries in 2019, and perhaps no position was hit harder than at running back, where Seattle lost its top three players for the rest of the year in the span of three weeks.
Top rusher Chris Carson fractured his hip in Week 16, though he’s expected to be ready to go for the regular season and in that same game, C.J. Prosise broke his wrist. Two weeks before that, 2018 first-round pick Rashaad Penny tore his ACL after getting a solid gain on a screen pass.
Because that injury occurred so late in the season, it was thought that Penny may miss not only practices, but regular season action as he recovers. Seahawks general manager John Schneider and head coach Pete Carroll have said there’s a chance Penny starts on the physically unable to perform list (PUP).
Now there are multiple reports that Penny’s recovery may in fact take that long as the Seahawks have apparently been trying to add veteran running back Devonta Freeman, 28, to the mix in free agency. Freeman has been with the Atlanta Falcons since entering the league in 2014 and was released earlier this offseason.
According to NFL insider Adam Caplan, Seattle has offered Freeman a contract because Penny isn’t expected to be ready for the start of the season. According to the report, Freeman has declined the offer because he is seeking more money and the Seahawks are “holding their position.”
Freeman is asking for more than the offer. Seahawks holding their position.
— Joe Dolan (@FG_Dolan) May 20, 2020
According to Mike Silver of NFL.com, Seattle’s offer was for $4 million in 2020. Freeman has gained interest from two other teams as well, Silver said.
The Seahawks' offer to free agent RB Devonta Freeman is a one-year deal that would be worth up to $4 million. He has also attracted interest from the Jets and Eagles.
— Michael Silver (@MikeSilver) May 20, 2020
The addition of a running back, especially a capable veteran, makes a lot of sense for Seattle, especially with the uncertainty of Penny’s status.
Carson is coming off two consecutive 1,000-yard seasons, but he’s never played in all 16 regular season games. Behind him and Penny are Travis Homer and DeeJay Dallas.
Homer was a sixth-round pick in 2019 and played almost exclusively on special teams before Carson, Penny and Prosise got hurt. In Week 16 when Carson and Prosise got hurt, he had five carries for 16 yards. The next week against San Francisco when he was starting was better, running 10 times for 62 yards while also adding 30 yards on five catches. But in the playoffs, he had just 25 yards on 14 carries.
Dallas will be a rookie in 2020 after Seattle selected him in the fourth round in April’s draft and with a strange offseason due to the coronavirus, it’ll be harder than ever for rookies to enter the league and make an immediate impact.
Who is Devonta Freeman?
Freeman was drafted in the fourth round in 2014 after playing collegiately at Florida State. He didn’t do much as a rookie, but in 2015 and 2016 he had over 1,000 rushing yards each season and totaled 27 touchdowns. Throughout his entire six-year career, Freeman has 3,972 rushing yards, 32 rushing touchdowns as well as 257 receptions for 2,015 yards and 11 receiving touchdowns. His career yards per carry is 4.2.
Injuries have slowed him down since his two Pro Bowl seasons in 2015 and 2016, as he missed two games each in 2019 and 2017 and also missed all but two games in 2018. He had signed a five-year, $41.25 million dollar deal ahead of the 2017 season, but the Falcons opted to part ways with him to shed salary.
The Seahawks and Falcons have often faced off during Freeman’s tenure, and Atlanta’s head coach is former Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, so there’s a bit of a connection there.
If not Freeman, who?
If the Seahawks do opt to sign a free-agent running back that isn’t Freeman, there are some notable names out there.
The first name that comes to mind, of course, is Marshawn Lynch, one of the best running backs in Seahawks history. Lynch returned for Week 17 and the playoffs last season after the running back room was decimated by injuries, and he told ESPN recently that his agent was discussing a potential return to Seattle for 2020.
Lynch initially retired after 2015 but decided to return in 2017 for the Raiders. He played in Oakland in 2017 and 2018 and sat out nearly all of 2019 before his short return to the Seahawks. He didn’t rack up many yards, but he did score four touchdowns in three games.
There’s also Robert Turbin, who was Lynch’s backup during the team’s impressive run in the early- and mid-2010s. Turbin, like Lynch, returned to the Seahawks for Week 17 and the playoffs but did not have a carry or catch.
Two other veterans who are available are Carlos Hyde and Lamar Miller. Both are 29 years old.
Hyde had over 1,000 yards last season with the Texans and he started his career in the NFC West with the San Francisco 49ers, so the Seahawks are very familiar with him. He had over 900 yards for the 49ers in 2016 and 2017. Silver tweeted that the Seahawks have also shown interest in signing Hyde.
The reason Hyde played for the Texans was because Miller tore his ACL in the preseason. He has two 1,000-yard campaigns to his name and other than his rookie season, he has over 700 rushing yards every year that he played.