If a player’s availability is his best availability in the NFL, then Rashaad Penny’s story reads like a Greek tragedy. The immensely talented running back simply cannot stay on the field. He’s dealt with every injury under the sun, including a fractured fibula and high ankle sprain in 2022.
Penny has been sidelined for 40 games (42 appearances out of a possible 82 games) since going 27th overall in the 2018 NFL draft. Originally selected by the Seattle Seahawks, the 27-year-old slasher felt like he needed a restart and the Philadelphia Eagles were more than willing to give it to him.
Penny inked a one-year contract worth $1.35 million (via Spotrac), with $600,000 guaranteed plus incentives for total rushing yards. More importantly, Penny gets a chance to wipe the slate clean and show everyone he can be the primary rusher for a Super Bowl team.
“It wasn’t a hard decision for me. It’s like a refresh for me,” Penny told reporters on March 16. “Coming here and trying to restart my narrative, changing who I am as a person and I’m excited. It’s going to be big.”
The 5-foot-11, 220-pounder gave himself a clean bill of health, too. He’s fully recovered from surgery to repair a “syndesmotic ligament tear and deltoid ligament tear.” He’s had no physical or mental setbacks in his recovery. His personal goal is to play in all 17 regular-season games for the first time in his career.
“I feel really great. I feel really great,” Penny said. “I feel like 17 games are really important to me and I know in my right mind, that being here, being an Eagle, with a great strength and training staff, great coaches, they all take good care of their players here, and I’m just excited to be here and I expect big things.”
Not Taking Any Shots at Seattle Seahawks
Penny went out of his way to praise the Eagles’ strength and conditioning staff multiple times during his introductory press conference. He believes they have the tools to keep him healthy and let him do the two things he does best: “Just breaking long runs and having fun.” It’s a great opportunity.
“You always have to be optimistic and positive,” Penny said. “I think they do a really good job here of taking care of their players.”
And don’t read that as a knock on the Seattle Seahawks and their training staff. Penny made sure to put any perceived diss on them to bed.
“I’m not saying Seattle didn’t, but I’m excited to be here,” Penny said, “and this is one of the best opportunities for me to show [what I can do] as a player and to be in a great system with a lot of great players and running backs, and compete every day, so I’m excited for this opportunity.”
A few of those great players have already reached out to him, including quarterback Jalen Hurts. The MVP finalist texted him and let him know it’s Super Bowl or bust in 2023. Luckily, Penny is of the same mindset.
“He’s ready to win the Super Bowl,” Penny said of Hurts. “I’m with him and the whole team is with him, too, so I’m excited for this opportunity.”
Explosive Offensive Weapon When Healthy
Let’s not forget how much of an offensive weapon Penny was in Seattle. Throw the injuries out and focus on his stats. He has averaged 5.7 yards per carry for his career, including a league-best 6.2 yards per carry in 2021.
Further, Penny has reeled off six runs of 20 or more yards since the start of the 2021 season, third-most behind Nick Chubb and Jonathan Taylor. He has also rushed for 1,017 yards on 149 carries and 8 touchdowns over his last 10 starts. So, yes, his ceiling is made of glass.
“I’ve said this plenty of times in Seattle, you can’t get the ball six or seven times in sporadics,” Penny said. “It takes constant carries and I think that’s when a running back develops great vision and you have that, so every running back can do it, so I think it takes consistency as far as getting the ball and running.”
Penny is walking into a backfield in transition, too, after the Eagles let Miles Sanders leave in free agency. All he has to do is beat out Kenny Gainwell and Boston Scott to win the starting job which, with all due respect to those guys, is well within his reach. And Penny knows it.
“I think this is going to refresh my career for sure,” Penny said. “Being here, being an Eagle, I think this is a great opportunity for me.”