Rashaad Penny, a guy you might not have heard much about before this week, suddenly has landed a prestigious spot in the Eagles’ backfield.
The former Seahawks running back signed an Eagles contract Thursday. History says he can play — when healthy. But he hasn’t stayed healthy in his five-year career, and he plays a position prone to large, violent collisions.
Penny has played only 42 of a possible 82 games over five seasons. The most games he played in a season was 14 — with zero starts — as a rookie in 2018.
Penny was headed to his best season in 2022. He averaged 6.1 yards per carry. He gained 346 yards on 57 carries. He started the Seahawks’ first five games only to suffer a season-ending broken fibula, a damaged tibia and severe ankle sprain in Week Five.
Penny, 27, was the first new player the Eagles signed this offseason. He met the media Thursday at the Eagles’ NovaCare Complex and made it clear: He’s ready for a fresh start. He probably needs one.
- “I feel really great,” said Penny, who said he will be ready for offseason practices. “I feel like 17 games is really important to me.
- “In my right mind, with a great strength and training staff, great coaches — they all take care of their players here. I want to play 17 games.
- “I want to be available. I’m very excited to be here. I know a lot of big things are going to happen.”
STEPS IN FOR SANDERS
Penny will get every opportunity to run the football next season. In a sense, he replaces free agent Miles Sanders, who is going to the Panthers. Sanders will be reunited with Carolina assistant coach Duce Staley, under whom he played in Philadelphia.
Penny will join Kenny Gainwell, Boston Scott and Trey Sermon in the backfield. Sanders gained 1,269 rushing yards last season — mostly tough, between-the-tackles gains. Those yards worked in concert with Jalen Hurts’ running ability and passing game.
Running the ball in the Eagles’ offense is the quickest path to success. The Eagles ranked fifth in rushing last season and their offense was third overall. When the Eagles successfully run the ball, Hurts’ passing game has more room to maneuver.
In 2021, he averaged 6.3 yards per carry, gaining 749 yards on 119 carries in 10 games. He is a unique combination of shifty and speedy. He’s not afraid to take on would-be tacklers, but prefers to dart around them.
He has a career average per carry of 5.7 yards, which would have ranked second in the league this year behind Bears quarterback Justin Fields’ 7.1 yards per carry.
- “This is one of the best opportunities for me to show who I am as a player,” Penny said when asked to describe his running style. “To be in a great system with a lot of great players.
- “It’s a running back room that I can compete in every day. I want to add my elements to their game and be a factor.
- “I’m more of a slasher. I run hard. But I really try to run past people because I feel like that’s what I do … I’m really trying to tie my game with … more power, and setting up guys to run past them.”
HERE’S THE DEAL
Penny’s contract seems like a one-year, show-me deal — reportedly $1.35 million with $600,000 guaranteed and a maximum value of $2.1 million.
It’s not big money for the NFL, but it’s an opportunity for Penny to establish himself as a reliable complement to Gainwell, who is expected to have a larger role based on his excellent end to the 2022 season.
Penny knows what he’s in for. He’s on an elite team, replacing an excellent back. His new team, on paper, has a good chance to return to the Super Bowl in 2023. There is pressure on Penny to perform.
When he was injured last season, and watching from the sidelines, he might not have anticipated playing next to one of the top quarterbacks in the league and behind one of the NFL’s best offensive lines.
- “Playing with a finalist MVP at quarterback, a great running back room, great weapons at receiver, the best O-line,” Penny said. “These guys have everything. It wasn’t a hard decision for me. I’m excited to be an Eagle.”
Penny was drafted 27th overall in 2018 out of San Diego State. He spent all five seasons in Seattle.
- “I want to rewrite my own narrative,” Penny said. “I feel like this is a great place for me to refresh, restart my career.”
Penny said he had a welcoming phone call after he agreed to the deal. The call was from Hurts, who had a focused message.
- “He’s ready to win the Super Bowl,” Penny said about the Hurts call. “I’m on it with him. I’m with him and I know the whole team is with him, too.
- “I’m excited for this opportunity.”