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How the Seahawks paid $3.037M for 34 rushing yards

NFL: DEC 12 Seahawks at Texans Photo by John Rivera/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Monday marks two weeks since the start of the legal tampering period of free agency and a full month until the 2022 NFL Draft takes place in Las Vegas at the end of April. For the Seattle Seahawks that means roughly four months until the start of training camp and more than five months until the 2022 season kicks off for teams like Seattle to answer the questions at several positions on the roster. In particular the questions the team will need to answer between now and the start of the season in September include:

  • Who will be at quarterback?
  • Will Dee Eskridge, Freddie Swain or someone else be the third wide receiver?
  • Who will be the starting tackles?

However, one question that the team has already answered in free agency is whether or not the late season explosion by running back Rashaad Penny would leave the Hawks looking for answers at the position. With Penny and the team agreeing to terms on a one-year deal that will see him on the roster with a $5.47M cap hit for the 2022 season. That, of course, means that Penny’s lights out performance down the home stretch this past season set him up to earn more than the $4.523M for which the team could have secured his services had they exercised the fifth year option in his rookie contract.

Now, this is not to criticize the team for declining Penny’s fifth year option, as there was zero reason to exercise the option and give Penny a fully-guaranteed $4.523M coming off his disastrous 2020 performance in returning from multiple knee surgeries. That said, while there is no reason to criticize declining to exercise Penny’s fifth year option, there is plenty of room to criticize his use at all on the field in 2020.

As covered here at Field Gulls in detail back in January, the only reason that Penny was an unrestricted free agent following the 2021 season is the fact that the Seahawks opted to put him on the field for three games late in the year. In those three games Penny saw the field for a total of 38 offensive snaps, gained 34 yards on 11 rushing attempts and cost the Seahawks a few million dollars.

Specifically, with the COVID Amendment to the CBA in place for the 2020 season, Penny was able to earn an accrued season by being on the roster for a single game, rather than the normal six games. Thus, with an accrued season earned during the 2020 season, Penny finished the 2021 season with four accrued seasons and therefore was eligible for free agency when his contract expired at the end of the league year.

Had Penny not earned an accrued season in 2020, he would have finished the 2021 season with three accrued seasons and been a restricted free agent at the conclusion of his rookie contract. At that point the team would have been able to retain his services for the 2022 season on an original round tender, which would have been a one-year, $2.433M contract.

Putting it all together, the answer to the question posed back in January regarding how much 34 rushing yards from Rashaad Penny would cost the Seahawks is now known, and the answer is $3.037M.