Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll unveiled significant news at the NFL scouting combine this past week, stating that Rashaad Penny is likely to begin training camp on the PUP list, which puts his availability for the start of the season in question.
It’s one more reason to think the Seahawks, who drafted Penny No. 27 overall two years ago, could spend another early-ish pick on a running back in April.
Starter Chris Carson is coming off his second straight 1,000-yard season but also a serious hip injury. And while the Seahawks expect him to make a full recovery by the start of the season after not needing surgery, he’s entering the final year of his rookie contract and has finished two of his three seasons on IR. Oft-injured C.J. Prosise is a UFA, as are Marshawn Lynch and Robert Turbin, whom Seattle signed off the street after losing Carson, Penny and Prosise late in the season. It’s not clear if Lynch even wants to play in 2020.
Penny had just started to emerge when he tore his ACL and suffered additional damage to his left knee Dec. 8. Carson and Prosise went down two weeks later.
“We’ll be addressing that position,” Seahawks general manager John Schneider told John Clayton on 710 ESPN Seattle from Indianapolis. “There’s no doubt.”
If the Seahawks want to do that in the draft, ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. wrote that “there will be some really good backs who go on Day 2” even if he doesn’t consider the running back class to be as strong at the top as it has been in other years. The Seahawks have two second-round picks and are projected to receive a third-rounder as compensation for losing Earl Thomas, meaning they should have three picks on Day 2, with the potential to add more if they stick with their first-round MO and trade back from No. 27 overall.
Kiper projects Cam Akers of Florida State as one of those Day 2 backs after he posted a 4.47-second 40-yard dash (fifth-best at the position) at 217 pounds. Kiper listed Akers as one of the biggest risers from Day 2 of workouts and wrote that he would draft him “in a heartbeat” if he were available at the top of the third round.
ESPNs Todd McShay, meanwhile, believes Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor positioned himself to go early on Day 2 after a strong combine showing. He led all running backs with a 4.39 40, the third-fastest combine time for a running back weighing 225 pounds or more since 2006.
The Seahawks met with Taylor in Indianapolis.
Other Seahawks takeaways from the combine:
Schneider also offered a revelation in the Seahawks’ media sessions at the combine that qualifies as significant, even if hardly surprising. Schneider told reporters he doesn’t anticipate using the franchise or transition tag on any of Seattle’s 19 unrestricted free agents. That likely means Jarran Reed will indeed head to the open market along with Jadeveon Clowney, whom Seattle can’t tag, and three other defensive linemen who either started or played significant snaps for Seattle in 2019: Al Woods, Quinton Jefferson and Ziggy Ansah.
The tight end group was generally underwhelming. That helps explain why the Seahawks went hard after Greg Olsen, assuming they anticipated that this year’s draft class would be short on standout tight ends. At the very least, what happened at the combine won’t give the Seahawks any buyer’s remorse after guaranteeing $5.5 million of Olsen’s one-year, $7 million deal even though he’s about to turn 35 and has missed a combined 18 games over the past three seasons. It’s reminiscent of their 2015 trade for Jimmy Graham, a move they made in large part because they felt that year’s draft was weak at tight end (none were chosen in the first round). They felt the same way about the wide receiver class in 2013, the year they traded for Percy Harvin.
“It’s 80-90 percent of it,” Schneider said after the Graham trade when asked how much veteran additions are influenced by their view of that year’s draft. “It’s enormous.” The thinking was likely the same with Olsen. The remaining $1.5 million in his deal is in per-game roster bonuses, with $750,000 for the 53-man roster and $750,000 for the 46-man roster, according to a source.
Combine testing furthered the belief that this draft is exceptionally strong at wide receiver, where the Seahawks are looking for a No. 3 option behind Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf. “This group looks really good,” Schneider told Clayton. “It felt like in our meetings that every guy that kept coming up was like getting bigger and faster as they came along. It’s a heck of a group.”
That will likely influence the degree to which the Seahawks attempt to keep David Moore, a restricted free agent who had a better 2018 than ’19. It’s hard to imagine giving Moore a second-round tender, which OverTheCap.com projects to come with a $3.278 million salary. The low/original-round tender is projected at $2.144 million. The Seahawks could non-tender Moore, making the 2017 seventh-round pick an unrestricted free agent, and try to re-sign him for less than any tender amount. Perhaps that’s a risk they’d take, figuring they could find someone in the draft equally, if not more, capable of stepping into the No. 3 role.