Panthers Complicate Backfield by Signing Former First-Round RB

The Panthers reportedly signed former first-round RB Rashaad Penny in free agency, complicating an already crowded backfield.
Chuba Hubbard led the Panthers' backfield in 2023 but now faces stiff competition from Jonathon Brooks and Rashaad Penny
Chuba Hubbard led the Panthers' backfield in 2023 but now faces stiff competition from Jonathon Brooks and Rashaad Penny / Jeremy Reper-USA TODAY Sports

The Panthers made a surprising move on Monday, reportedly signing former Seahawks and Eagles RB Rashaad Penny. He'll reunite with head coach Dave Canales from his Seattle days, though the move further complicates an already crowded backfield.

Chuba Hubbard is the incumbent starter, Miles Sanders has the fifth-highest cap hit of any RB in the NFL this year, and Carolina just spent a second-round pick on Texas star Jonathon Brooks. Needless to say, there are a lot of mouths to feed.

Penny comes to the organization after a disappointing season with the Eagles, appearing in just three games, though he still averages 5.6 yards per carry for his career.

Panthers News: Carolina Signs RB Rashaad Penny in Free Agency

During Penny's final two years in Seattle, he averaged 6.3 and 6.1 yards per carry. He's a dynamic talent but periodic injuries have limited him every year he's been in the league.

This is an opportunity for the 2018 first-round pick to rebuild his value in hopes of a larger contract after the season. He's already 28 years old, so he likely only has one more chance to land a big payday.

It would make sense if Canales focused on improving the running game around QB Bryce Young. Putting Young in advantageous positions on passing downs could go a long way toward helping his confidence and I can see a world in which Hubbard, Brooks, and Penny all get some work.

However, someone has to be the odd man out here. Maybe it's Sanders, maybe it's Penny. Either way, this is now a highly complicated backfield to figure out. My best guess is that Brooks leads the team in carries, but sees his workload managed as he recovers from the torn ACL he suffered this past season.

If Brooks takes longer to recover than expected, Penny could see a healthy amount of carries early in the year. Don't expect this to be a game-changing acquisition, though it's still wise to get some insurance at an important position while Young develops.

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