Rashaad Penny finished the year as the best runner over the final five weeks of the NFL season.
It wasn’t particularly close, either.
Seahawks have to give him a one year prove it break. Rashaad Penny went OFF. This is insane. pic.twitter.com/MwllQVnOBQ— Sami Jarjour (@SamiOnTap) January 11, 2022
Penny’s spontaneous combustion of productivity sends him into the 2022 season as the most intriguing running back in the league. We know what Jonathan Taylor can do over a full season, we know what Derrick Henry can do, but what exactly is it that Penny could do over 17 games at this level?
It brings back memories of the two times the team refused to trade him.
Because, let’s face it, you wanted them to, probably more than once.
Penny’s first suitor: 2018
John Schneider admitted fairly quickly that following the selection of Rashaad Penny, another team called him immediately to attempt a trade. Schneider himself admitted he’d never seen that before, and the team declined.
Some speculation at the time was that the team in question was the New England Patriots, but nothing’s ever been confirmed. New England selected Sony Michel four picks later, and though they didn’t have a ton in the draft, that was their second number one pick.
2018 has ended up as Penny’s second biggest season. He saw the field in 14 games, and went for 419 yards.
Jay Glazer offered a different suggestion for who the unnamed Penny Pursuer was during the draft. Not my favorite source in the world, but it is interesting because he claimed it was actually the Detroit Lions made the mysterious draft-day call. If true, this wasn’t the last time, either.
Penny’s second suitor: 2019, the Detroit Lions
Because the very next year, John Schneider’s good buddy the-team-that-gave-away-Quandre-Diggs came calling.
Another RB the Lions were checking in on at the trade deadline: Rashaad Penny. Sounds like Lions were willing to part with a third-round pick for him but Seattle wanted more. They'll roll with Ty Johnson, J.D. McKissic and Paul Perkins at RB today.— Dave Birkett (@davebirkett) November 3, 2019
This time around things were far more substantiated. Seattle legitimately turned down Detroit’s offer for Penny at the 2019 trade deadline.
At the time, Penny had already been inactive for three games that season and only had one game with even 10 carries.
Yet Schneider persisted.
Then, after returning for only three games in 2020, the popular hot take this summer was that Penny might not even make the roster.
How long is the leash?
It’s a fascinating study watching patience on this team. I’d say it’s a joint effort, but Pete Carroll in particular seems to give the guys he likes not just one or two chances, but closer to five or six. Rasheem Green is another example of a draft pick who took so long to develop that the average Washingtonian had already written him off. Now, he’s got six sacks and a special teams two-pointer.
This is not to conclude that your favorite team is inerrant and “trust the process” is always it. After all, this Penny revolution comes in the same season that was probably three seasons too many running Tre Flowers out there as a starting cornerback.
Is C.J. Prosise in the house tonight?
But it may serve as a good reminder, while so many have emotionally jumped ship this season, claiming wholesale change is needed in Seattle, that there can be massive payouts to patience. The Seahawks are not in the Jacksonville Jaguars corner of the NFL, not by a long shot.
Thinking of Penny, Green, and Cody Barton in particular, which gives hope for a down year from Damien Lewis, a disappointing start for Dee Eskridge, and a potential gem with rough moments in Jake Curhan.
It’s unquestionably easier to pinpoint a trade that returned value and say “that was a good move.” It’s far more subtle and less interesting to highlight an organization’s patience with their own athlete and say “not giving up was a good move”.
Yet there’s quite a bit of that here right now and room for more next year.