The Seattle Seahawks were dominant on Sunday, having defeated the Detroit Lions by a final score of 51-29. Seattle's offense was in rare form en route to racking up an astounding 497 yards of total offense while surpassing 50 points for the first time in more than a decade. Starting quarterback Russell Wilson was electric, completing 20-of-29 passing attempts for 236 yards and four touchdowns. It was quite possibly Wilson's last game in front of a rambunctious home crowd in Seattle, as trade rumors continue to swirl and make their rounds. Wilson's 10-year career in Seattle has been nothing short of elite, and the headlines pouring out of Seattle will largely focus on his uncertain future, and rightfully so. Operating way in the background of Wilson's story arc was another Seahawk with an uncertain future that deserves to be discussed in some fashion. For as excellent as Wilson was against the Lions, running back Rashaad Penny matched that stunning performance by rushing for a staggering 170 yards and two touchdowns on a healthy 25 rushing attempts. Few running backs around the NFL are currently running with Penny's decisiveness and physical mindset. Penny has completely transformed Seattle's rushing attack since taking his spot in the starting lineup due to a mixture of injuries and ineffectiveness. Sunday's showing marked the third time in four games that Penny surpassed 130 rushing yards. He's averaging an unheard of 6.97 yards per carry throughout this four-game stretch. This unheralded run of form complicates Penny's future, as his four-year rookie contract expires at the conclusion of the campaign—the Seahawks previously declined his fifth-year option. Penny has largely failed to live up to the first-round expectations that were laid upon him when general manager John Schneider surprisingly selected him with the 27th overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. Penny has been labeled as one of the bigger first-round "busts" in recent memory, but the former San Diego State standout has completely changed his fortunes for the better. He now gets set to hit free agency after what's undeniably been the most fruitful stretch of his career. Don't look now, but Seattle may actually field some competition when it comes to securing Penny's services for 2022, a sentence that was perhaps unthinkable just a few weeks ago. Seattle should have interest in retaining Penny, but should hardly feel desperate to do so. Starting running back Chris Carson is under contract for 2022, and although his contract contains a fairly easy out, his $4.5 million base salary is rather favorable for a runner with his achievements and decorated resume. Carson's presence protects Schenider in any upcoming contract negotiations with Penny. Health will also undoubtedly factor into Seattle's decision regarding Penny's next contract and that may not bode well for Penny, who remains a rather untrustworthy ball-carrier from a health standpoint. His 96 carries currently represent a career-high mark for him due to a plethora of injuries that have greatly shortened the early portion of his career. It's somewhat difficult to buy into what he's currently achieving given the three-and-a-half-year sample size that points in the opposite direction, and it will impact any team’s willingness to make a long financial commitment to him. Penny would be wise to bet on himself by signing a one-year deal in the neighborhood of $2-3 million, and this could (and should) be appealing to Seattle from both a term and financial perspective. A repeat performance of what he's currently achieving would set him up nicely to land a much more lucrative deal ahead of 2023. Theoretically, if all goes well, he would have strung together more than just a handful of excellent showings while re-hitting free agency in a year where the cap should be higher than ever before. Witnessing Penny's latest form has been an enthralling exercise. He continues to showcase the brilliant ability that made him such an intriguing prospect while catching Schneider's eye in the first place. Watching this upcoming storyline unfold is going to be fascinating for several reasons.
- May 23, 2022
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