Panthers add former 1st-round pick to Bryce Young-led offense

The Carolina Panthers are planning to sign free agent running back Rashaad Penny, a source told ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler. Details of the contract have not emerged, but Penny is slated to join his third NFL team in his seventh season in the league.

Panthers add former 1st-round pick to Bryce Young-led offense

Penny spent last year with the Philadelphia Eagles after signing a one-year deal with them as a free agent. He did not see much playing time as D’Andre Swift emerged as the feature back. Penny dressed for only three games and saw the field for 31 offensive snaps. He rushed 11 times for 33 yards and had one reception for five yards.Before that Penny was a member of the Seattle Seahawks for the first five years of his NFL career after Seattle selected him with the 27th overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. However, Penny did not start a game until 2021 as injuries took a toll on his career.He tore his ACL late in the 2019 season and missed most of the 2020 season because of it, appearing in three games in the latter.

His best season came in 2021 as he suited up for 10 games, starting six of them. Penny rushed for 749 yards and six touchdowns for a seven-win Seahawks team. He led the league in rushing yards per attempt after a monster finish to the season in which he rushed for over 134 yards per game across Seattle’s final five games. Penny scored all of his touchdowns during that span.

Penny reunites with Panthers head coach Dave Canales who held various roles with the Seahawks during Penny’s time there. Canales was Seattle’s passing game coordinator during the 2021 season.

Panthers offense trying to get out of the basement

Carolina Panthers quarterback Bryce Young (9) leads a huddle against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the first quarter at Raymond James Stadium

The Panthers suffered their sixth consecutive losing season in 2023, finishing with a 2-15 record, their worst since 2010. Canales will be the fifth different head coach (including interims) to lead the Panthers since the 2022 season.

Frank Reich lasted 11 games last season before getting the boot. It’s hard to argue with his dismissal given the dumpster fire of an offense the Panthers had. Carolina finished last in total offense and scoring offense with averages of 265.3 yards and 13.9 points per game. The yardage total was the worst by any team since the 2018 Arizona Cardinals, who averaged 241.6 yards per game.

Things didn’t get much better after Reich’s firing as the Panthers’ numbers dropped even more. Carolina scored 63 points across its final six games, a stretch that included a 30-point outing and two shutouts. Their lone win without Reich came in a 9-7 thriller against the Atlanta Falcons in Week 15.

Rashaad Penny joins a running back room that includes Chuba Hubbard, Miles Sanders and rookie second-round pick Jonathon Brooks. Hubbard grappled the starting role away from Sanders in the middle of the season and rushed for 902 yards. He’ll likely have the edge again for the starting job, though Brooks will certainly have something to say about that if he is cleared following an ACL tear in November.

Penny might just be a depth move at the moment for the Panthers, but it never hurts to have too many bodies at the running back position. He should get an opportunity to carve out a role in the NFL’s worst offense.

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