By Gregg Bell | McClatchy News Service
RENTON — The Seahawks were seeking running-back depth.
They just got a 1,000-yard back to be a backup.
Seattle and veteran free agent Carlos Hyde have an agreement on a one-year contract that could be worth up to $4 million, including incentive bonuses, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network Friday afternoon.
That contract is likely full of roster and yardage-milestone money Hyde would become more likely to earn if Rashaad Penny remains sidelined well into the 2020 season. Penny, the team’s first-round draft choice in 2018, had reconstructive knee surgery in December.
Up to $4 million was what Seattle was thought to have offered former Atlanta back Devonta Freeman, who turned it down.
Thing is, if Penny doesn’t come back to anywhere near full health—or if Chris Carson (26 in September) continues his trend back to junior college of not being able to complete an entire season injury-free—the Seahawks will gladly pay up to $4 million to have the powerful Hyde as an option for Carroll’s run-based offense.
Hyde, 28, is former lead back for San Francisco who has been with four teams since leaving the 49ers following the 2017 season. He rushed for a career-high 1,070 yards and played in his first playoff game last season for the Houston Texans.
Seattle has Carson coming off a season-ending cracked hip, though he did not need surgery for it. He and the Seahawks believe their lead back, who’s gained more than 2,300 yards the last two years combined, will be ready for the start of the 2020 season. It’s the final year of Carson’s rookie contract.
Penny had tore multiple ligaments in his knee in December. He is likely to start the 2020 season on the physically-unable-to-perform list. That would sideline him for at least the first six games.
This offseason Penny has been incrementally increasing his rehabilitation work, including on an exercise bike and footwork agility drills. But his return to play remains an unknown on a horizon more distant than Carson’s.
Hyde was a second-round pick by the 49ers in 2014 out of Ohio State. He ran for a career-high eight touchdowns with 940 yards for San Francisco in 2017.
The Seahawks have not ruled out Marshawn Lynch playing for them again in 2020. But signing Hyde shows that Lynch is unlikely to sign on again to anything but another special, partial-season deal with Seattle, to fill in if injuries happen again during the season as they do so often at running back in the NFL.