By Bob Condotta / The Seattle Times
The Seattle Seahawks’ pursuit of a veteran running back to add depth at a position that last year was decimated by injuries ended Friday as the team agreed to a one-year deal with free agent Carlos Hyde, who gained 1,070 yards during a resurgent 2019 season with the Houston Texans.
The news of Hyde’s signing was first reported by the NFL Network, and it came after a source told The Seattle Times that the team was zeroing in on Hyde after contract talks stalled with longtime Atlanta Falcons standout Devonta Freeman.
The NFL Network reported that the 6-foot, 229-pound Hyde will get a deal similar to what Seattle had been offering Freeman — a one-year contract worth up to $4 million, though likely also including some significant playing time incentives to get the entire amount.
That Seattle had made an offer of $4 million to Freeman was first reported Wednesday as it became clear the Seahawks were getting serious about adding a veteran running back before the end of the team’s offseason training program.
But Freeman — who in 2017 signed a contract with Atlanta that guaranteed him more than $22 million before being released earlier this year — wanted more. In fact, Michael Silver of the NFL Network reported Friday that Freeman is willing to sit out the season if he does not get an offer he feels is in line with his value.
A source confirmed to The Times that the Seahawks made a serious play for Freeman but that once he turned down a final offer they decided Friday to move on to Hyde, who quickly accepted.
Last season, Hyde made $2.8 million with Houston, playing in all 16 games as well as two playoff games, after spending the 2018 season with Cleveland and Jacksonville.
Hyde, who played for the 49ers from 2014-17, gained just 571 yards on 172 carries in 2018 for a 3.3 yards-per-carry average before looking like his old self again last season after joining the Texans and averaging 4.4 yards per carry — the same as Chris Carson did for the Seahawks.
The Seahawks still intend to have Carson be one of their primary offensive weapons in 2020, one reason why they didn’t want to pay too much for Freeman.
But after the merry-go-round at the end of last season and some uncertainty about the health of key players entering 2020, Seattle had made it known that it wanted to beef up the position some, especially given the running game’s importance in the team’s offense — Seattle was fourth in the league last year in rushing yards per game at 137.5.
In fact, coach Pete Carroll said at the NFL combine in February to expect the Seahawks to add to the running back corps, saying “we have to make sure we have enough depth.”
Seattle remains unclear on exactly when 2018 first-round choice Rashaad Penny will return to full duty.
Penny suffered a knee injury that included an ACL tear and other damage in a game against the Rams on Dec. 8 and he is likely to start the year on the Physically Unable to Perform list. It was Penny’s injury that first dealt a significant blow to a Seattle running game that sputtered down the stretch as Penny and then Carson were sidelined.
Besides Carson and Penny, Seattle’s running back group includes Travis Homer, who played significantly at the end of last season as a rookie, 2020 fourth-round choice DeeJay Dallas, and undrafted rookie free agents Anthony Jones and Patrick Carr.