At this point, it’s still unclear whether or not Jordan Howard will remain an Eagle next season. His contract is coming to an end and he’s set to hit the open market in a couple of months.
As we’ve seen throughout his time here, not many franchises value what Howard brings to the field. He was sitting on the Eagles practice squad for half of the season in 2021 and still had a profound impact on the team’s offensive rebirth. Nevertheless, Howard’s skill set is very common and teams will always be more willing to draft running backs to fill out their depth chart rather than signing veterans.
But the Eagles aren’t like every other team. Their identity is found in the running game and if they’re going to run it back with Jalen Hurts for another season, they’d be foolish to try and deviate from that formula.
While Howard was a nice addition to their backfield in 2021, they could look to upgrade from him this offseason. And that brings us to 25-year-old running back Rashaad Penny from Seattle.
Penny had a career resurgence at the end of the 2021 season. During the final five games of the season, Penny averaged 134.2 rushing yards per game and found the end zone six times. Not to mention he averaged an astounding seven yards per carry during that time, by far the highest mark of any running back over the final five games of the year.
Penny has always been a productive back in Seattle, despite playing behind a terrible offensive line and never getting a true opportunity to be the lead back. When he was drafted in the first-round of the 2018 NFL Draft, the Seahawks envisioned him as the heir apparent to Marshawn Lynch. With their similar running styles, it was easy to see why Seattle took Penny in the first. Unfortunately, injuries held Penny back from ever staking his claim to the lead back role, and in his absence Chris Carson rose to the top of the RB depth chart.
Penny was injured for the majority of this past season as well, before racking up highlights in the final month. His durability issues will always hold him back from being a lead back, but in Philadelphia, he won’t need to be.
Penny would be able to fill Howard’s role with ease. He’s essentially a quicker, faster, and more explosive version of Howard. Penny will get the short yardage just like Howard does, but he’ll also sprinkle in some home runs in there.
Penny is far from the only option to replace Howard this offseason — if Howard even signs with another team. But he’s certainly one of the most interesting ones, especially if Howie Roseman wants to focus all of his draft capital on the defensive side of the ball.
Penny’s late season emergence could boost his value a little as he enters free agency, but it wouldn’t shock me at all if he can be had on a one-year ‘prove it’ deal. For as long as Hurts remains the quarterback in Philly, Howie should continue to bolster the team’s already elite running game. Penny would just be another cog in the machine.