This is about depth and competition and about investing in someone who, when he's been healthy, has been a dynamic and extremely productive running back in the NFL.
The hope is that Rashaad Penny, who has agreed to terms with the Eagles on a one-year contract on Wednesday, the first day of free agency, finds that healthy sweet spot here and gives the Philadelphia offensive backfield a different look: He's a 5-foot-11, 220-pound (although he's played at closer to 237 pounds, according to reports) combination of speed and power who has averaged 5.7 yards per carry in his five seasons, all with Seattle, with 1,918 yards and 13 touchdowns on 337 carries.
When he's been healthy ...
The 27th overall selection in the 2018 NFL Draft after a great career at San Diego State, Penny led the nation as a senior with 2,248 rushing yards and scored 23 touchdowns on 289 carries, finishing fifth in the Heisman Trophy voting and garnering first-team All-American and All-Mountain West honors. He also caught 19 passes for 135 yards and two scores and scored twice on kickoff returns.
Penny was expected to work into a featured back role with the Seahawks and was described during the draft process by NFL.com, who quoted an anonymous NFC scout as: "You know exactly who he is when you watch the tape. I don't think there are going to be any surprises when you get him into our league because you know he is going to make guys miss and he's going to run hard every snap."
Penny has had his career slowed by a torn ACL, a calf injury which landed him on Injured Reserve late in 2020, and a broken leg that limited him to five games in 2022 (Penny ran for 346 yards and averaged 6.1 yards per carry prior to the injury). His best stretch came late in the 2021 campaign when Penny gained an NFL-high 706 rushing yards in the final six games of the season.
In his last three games of 2021, Penny was sensational - he ripped off 135 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries against Chicago, 170 yards and two touchdowns against Detroit, and then finished off the season with 23 carries, 190 yards and a score against Arizona.
Maybe, just maybe, Penny was on his way. He reported to 2022 Training Camp and immediately wowed Seahawks Head Coach Pete Carroll.
"Rashaad is in great shape," Carroll told reporters after the team's first Training Camp Practice. "Just cut, sharp, fast, and excited because he had such a great offseason. He looked terrific, he couldn't wait to get out here and just run. He really wanted to show us that he could go, and he looked just like he did when we finished out at the end, so it was really fun to see."
After a strong start to 2022, Penny suffered a broken fibula in Week 5 during a 39-32 loss to New Orleans and underwent season-ending surgery. More rehabilitation.
Now he's an Eagle and he will be out to prove once again that he can stay healthy. The Eagles have depth in the backfield with Kenneth Gainwell, Boston Scott, and Trey Sermon already under contract, and adding Penny certainly doesn't mean the team is finished addressing the position.
In a 17-game season, building as much depth is critical, so the Eagles are hoping the extremely talented, highly productive Penny can help the offense with his hard-charging style.