What Will Happen to Seahawks' Running Back Corps Once Rashaad Penny Returns?

Amid the growing speculation that Penny will start next season on the PUP list, the Seahawks' backfield could look very different once he returns to action during the second half of the 2020 campaign.
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With the Seahawks continuing to load up on running back talent through free agency and the draft, the organization may face some tough roster decisions down the road.

Following the signing of veteran running back Carlos Hyde last week, Seattle now has seven different ball carriers on its 90-man roster for the upcoming season. However, former first-round pick Rashaad Penny is expected to start next season on the PUP list as he continues to rehab his reconstructed knee.

Similar to last season, the Seahawks will likely want to trim their running back corps down to four players before the start of the regular season. With that in mind, it will be very difficult for undrafted free agents Patrick Carr and Anthony Jones to crack the team’s 55-man roster.

Once meaningful games begin in September, Seattle’s backfield will likely consist of Chris Carson, Travis Homer, DeeJay Dallas, and Hyde. But as soon as six weeks later, the Seahawks could be forced to remove one of these players from their active roster.

After Week 6 is completed, Penny will become eligible to be activated off the PUP list, giving the Seahawks five different running backs on their squad. Even with roster sizes increasing in 2020, it may not make sense to keep that many ball carriers on the team at the same time.

Starting with Hyde, his snap count will likely take the biggest hit once Penny returns to the field and there’s a chance he could ultimately get released by the team, depending on how he performs to start the seson. If both Homer and Dallas remain healthy, there might not be a need to keep the seven-year veteran in the Pacific Northwest anymore.

As for the two former Hurricanes, they could be competing against each other for a roster spot during the first six weeks of the regular season. If Hyde impresses Seattle’s coaching staff and runs well as a compliment to Carson, then his presence could potentially force the team to choose between Homer and Dallas.

Along with active rosters expanding, the size of practice rosters will also be increasing from 12 to 14 players next season. As a result, the Seahawks would be able to re-sign either player to the practice squad if released, assuming another team doesn't claim him off waivers. There's certainly some risk there.

There’s also the outside chance Seattle could look to move Carson, who is set to become an unrestricted free agent next spring, before the trade deadline.

While the 25-year old running back might not garner much attention on the trade market halfway through the season, it would allow general manager John Schneider to acquire assets for the star back instead of potentially letting him walk out the door for nothing in return next spring. If Hyde performs well, this would be more plausible.

Still, even if Carson departs through free agency next offseason, in Seattle’s eyes, having him on their squad during the most critical time of the season likely outweighs any return they’d receive for the two-time 1,000-yard rusher. This is especially true with Penny coming off a severe knee injury.

While none of these options are ideal, most teams would agree that having too many quality players on your roster is usually a good problem to have. This is especially true given what happened to Seattle last year when running backs dropped like flies at the end of the regular season and no matter what happens, they've made the right choice adding extra depth at the position heading towards camp.