The Seahawks roster will go through some attrition at some key position groups. Running back may be one of the units with the most turnover. The question is how important is one great lead back in new offensive coordinator Shane Waldron’s system? Does Seattle need Chris Carson to return or can they use a running back by committee?
In 2020, Waldron’s former team, the Los Angeles Rams, had three running backs get 100 carries or more. Seattle this past season had one back do that and that was Carson. In 2019, however, the Rams had Todd Gurley and he rushed 223 times and the next closest back got 69 carries. So it’s a little hard to tell what Waldron might do.
It should also be noted that Waldron has never been an NFL offensive coordinator and never called plays, so the way he approaches the offense might differ from his former head coach, Sean McVay.
This is who I think makes the Seahawks roster as a running back in 2021
Starter – Rashaad Penny
This means two things. I do not think Chris Carson will re-sign with the Seahawks. One reason is that Seattle has limited cap space and might need to spend what they have on re-signing K.J. Wright and/or Shaquill Griffin. The second reason I think Rashaad Penny starts and Carson leaves is Seattle chose Penny in the first round of 2018 and he needs to show he can be a lead back in the final year of his rookie contract (Seattle has an option for the fifth year).
Penny has been decent in spurts but also injured a ton. Over the last two seasons, he has played 13 out of 32 possible games. But he is playing for his next contract and should be motivated and Penny is presumably a good fit in Waldron’s offense with his size and speed.
Backups – Alex Collins, DeeJay Dallas, Travis Homer and Gus Edwards
This group doesn’t look all that great but there are reasons they might be successful with Waldron. Homer and Dallas can catch passes out of the backfield and Dallas has the quickness to be productive on plays like jet-sweeps. Homer is never going to be a three-down back (neither is Dallas probably) but they don’t need to be with Waldron. They just need to be good on flash plays.
Collins is an odd player. He ran for nearly 1,000 yards in 2017 with the Ravens and then didn’t play in 2019. But he runs hard and plays like he’s bigger than he is and produces a bit more than what it looks like he should. He has 16 rushing touchdowns in 39 career games and that’s pretty good.
Gus Edwards is a free agent back that should fit well with Seattle. He’s a big back at 235 pounds and has run for 711-plus yards in each of his three seasons when he was with the Ravens. He also has averaged 5.2 yards a carry. He could be a starter in Seattle should Penny not work out.