BY Art Thiel 06:20PM 05/22/2020

Thiel: Seahawks Hyde-bound at running back

After a snub by by Devonta Freeman, Seahawks will sign former 49er Carlos Hyde to a one-year, $4 million deal, perhaps the NFL’s highest-paid backup RB.

RB Carlos Hyde was the 2014 second-round draft choice of San Francisco, where he spent four seasons. / Wiki Commons

The understandable fascination with the surprise return of Marshawn Lynch late last season tended to obscure the profound poverty of the Seahawks’ running back situation. So the hire Friday of free agent RB Carlos Hyde by Seattle would seem to be a time for a reminder.

In the Seahawks’ 28-23 playoff loss to the Packers in Green Bay that ended the season, the Seahawks had 110 yards rushing on 24 carries. But 64 came on seven scrambles by QB Russell Wilson. Lynch, rookie RB Travis Homer, WR David Moore and TE Luke Willson did the rest, combining for 58 yards on 17 carries.

The Packers advanced to the NFC Championship against 49ers in Santa Clara, where backup RB Raheem Mostert in rushed 29 times for four touchdowns and 220 yards, second-highest total in NFL playoff history, to lead SF to the Super Bowl. QB Jimmy Garoppolo, arguably the weak link in the 49ers offense, felt compelled to throw eight times.

If the Seahawks had any one among Chris Carson, Rashaad Penny or C.J. Prosise, all injured in December, to exploit the Packers’ weak link, they would have played San Francisco a third time in a year. You can wager large coin that every single 49er wrinkled his nose at that prospect.

Now you understand why the Seahawks are willing to make Hyde, 30 on Sept. 20, perhaps the highest-paid backup running back in the NFL. The decision comes a year after he made $2.8 million while setting career highs for the Houston Texans in yards (1,070), carries (245) and first-down runs (55). His 4.4 yards per carry average in 2019 was the same as Carson’s.

NFL.com reported that Hyde (6-0, 229), who is set to sign a one-year deal, might make as much as $4 million with incentives, after a $3 million base. No matter how entertaining was the Lynch return, the Seahawks don’t want to count on dragging a 35-year-old out of retirement a third time. He can’t keep climbing that pole to get his cleats off the wire.

Hyde is familiar to Seahawks fans, because he was a second-round draft out of Ohio State in 2014 by San Francisco. He started 36 of 50 games with the 49ers, but had the usual litany of injuries common to NFL backs. In 2018, he split time between Cleveland and Jacksonville before a comeback year with the the Texans.

The Seahawks reportedly made the same offer to another free agent back, Devonta Freeman, who had four good years and two mediocre ones with the Atlanta Falcons. Two years younger and a better receiver out of the backfield (59 catches in 70 targets last season), Freeman reportedly said no. NFL.com said that Freeman may sit out the season if he doesn’t get want he wants.

Then again, in a 2020 calendar upended by the coronavirus shutdown, the injury rate in the NFL figures to be higher, so Freeman could get himself a better deal.

Reports in the off-season from coach Pete Carroll and GM John Schneider said Carson, who’s rushed for 1,000 yards in each of the past two years, is recovering well from a hip fractured Dec. 22. They expect him to be ready by the start of the regular season, although training camp is iffy.

But Penny tore his ACL Dec. 8 and has a longer road back. He is expected to start the season on the physically unable to perform list, meaning he is required to sit out the first six games.

The oft-injured Prosise was not re-signed, leaving Seattle with Homer, who had 25 yards in 14 carries in the two playoff games, as the second back. They drafted DeeJay Dallas in the fourth round, but the Seahawks made no secret about wanting a proven back in case a lot of playing time comes early for a team dependent on a big running game. Despite the late injuries, the Seahawks were fourth in the NFL with 137.5 yards per game.

As much as Lynch is a Seattle folk hero, the Seahawks needed someone for a full season of play to help take stress off the run-game mentals of 2019.

 


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YourThoughts

  • jafabian

    Looks like Robert Turbin is not an option and Travis Homer might be destined for the practice squad. I imagine that Chris Carson is no guarantee either. I’d like to see Lynch brought back because if the deal situation comes up and Carson remains healthy, Penny comes back and Homer’s game advances Lynch could walk away from the game no problem though that’s a minor statistic and Lynch might not be too interested anyway. Hyde gives the Hawks an able body at running back who knows his role. I think Freeman wants someplace where he has a better chance at starting.

    • art thiel

      Lynch doesn’t want to practice and watch film. He just wants to hit the hole a few times.

      • jafabian

        See, I’m fine with that. Vets should get some leeway. But I don’t know if that’s too much in the coaches eyes. But 300 yards and 8 TDS for the season? Sounds cool to me. Especially if Carson isn’t 100%.

        • art thiel

          Coaches want everyone seasonally engaged, except in emergencies.

  • James

    Luke Willson probably does a lot of “combing”.

    • art thiel

      Thanks for the help.

  • Husky73

    I’m still wondering what became of Chris Polk?

    • jafabian

      Same here. Wish the Hawks would take a flyer on him or Bishop Sankey who had a good rookie season for the Titans then faded away.

  • John

    I’ve often wondered if Steve Young would have become a Hall of Fame QB had he remained with Tampa Bay, with their sub-par offense and defense, instead of being traded to San Francisco. He might have put up great numbers that may not have meant much because of a team that didn’t win consistently. I think that without a good offense, a QB (no matter how good he is) cannot thrive and succeed. I think the same would go for running backs too.
    I’ll use Shaun Alexander as an example. He was good when he had a good line in front of him, namely with Hutch on the line. When Hutch left for Minnesota, Alexander’s game dropped off a bit. Now it could have been Hutch, or it could have been the perception that Alexander stopped trying as hard after getting that big paycheck. I don’t know for certain.
    Getting to my point, I wonder if the Seahawks would have a great running game if they had an offensive line that played well consistently. Instead of running back by committee, the line could help make the running game more of a threat and, add to the threat of Russel Wilson’s skills. Then the Seahawks would be a team no one wants to face at any time.
    I know, easier said than done.

    • art thiel

      Of course a better OL would have led to better results. In hindsight, losing Max Unger in the Jimmy Graham trade was a blow, and several free agent hires have been busts (Luke Joeckel, Ja’Marcus Webb, etc). They’ve spent as much draft capital on the OL as any team in the NFL, but haven’t spent it well.

      But they’ve made the playoffs in eight of the 10 years of Carroll/Schneider. All teams have made similar blunders, but the Seahawks have been more resourceful than most.

  • Stephen Pitell

    The question becomes: Why was SF so successful with the run when we were not? Do you believe RB’s were the only reason for the difference? I didn’t see all that many holes open for Marshawn or Homer. They didn’t look as fast as Mostert but I’m curious what you think.

    Marshawn has climbed that telephone pole for the last time, I believe.

    • art thiel

      SF’s line was better, the RBs healthier, and GB’s D was one week more worn down. Seahawks rookie guard Phil Haynes played the first game of his career at GB.