Futures of Diggs, Penny are the focus after notable season finale

Seattle’s 38-30 win in Arizona was meaningless to the franchise as far as this season is concerned, but it certainly meant a lot to the futures of Quandre Diggs and Rashaad Penny – for opposite reasons.

Poor Diggs suffered a broken fibula and dislocated ankle in the fourth quarter and left on a cart in tears as he surely considered the impact of the injury on his impending free agency.

Meanwhile, Penny had another big game, leading even more people to foolishly suggest the Seahawks pay him a bunch of money this year.

Diggs down

“Heart’s broken for him getting hurt like that,” Pete Carroll said of Diggs. “But he’ll be back. He’ll make it back. There’s some months in here (for recovery), but he’ll get back for the season next year and so that’s the positive side.”

Diggs already had earned a new deal, but the Seahawks have dragged their feet, apparently not wanting to pay big money to both safeties after paying Jamal Adams $70 million.

Diggs played this season on a slightly adjusted contract, reportedly getting an insurance policy. He picked off five passes and was more consistent than Adams, who was lost for the season with a shoulder injury in early December.

“Just to see the pain, the hurt, is heavy,” Russell Wilson said. “He’s been the MVP of our season. … I don’t think anybody’s played any better across the league at that position. And I know he’s a guy that deserves to get paid the right way.”

Now we will have to see whether the Seahawks will re-sign Diggs or use the franchise tag on him – or just let him see what he can get in free agency — as he rehabs over the next three or four months.  

Penny’s stock

Penny ran for a career-high 190 yards, including a 62-yard TD dash.

Penny has played so well over the past few games that he actually has some people lobbying for Seattle to give him a lot of money in 2022.

But there is no way the Hawks should pay anything more than the minimum (or very close to it) for a guy who has played in just 37 games over his four seasons while being paid over $10 million. If he wants to come back, he needs to be willing to prove he can play a full season.

In a lost season, one of the few bright spots has been seeing Penny finally find his footing.

After running for 170 yards in a 51-29 win over Detroit in Week 17, Penny followed that up with another monster game to finish the season. He rushed for 671 yards over his final five games. Penny joined Shaun Alexander (2004) as the only Seahawks with 130 rushing yards in three straight games.  

All it took was some confidence and health, which Penny found once Adrian Peterson arrived.

“When you have a guy who has been running in this league for so long and is on the verge of the Hall of Fame,” Penny said last week, “it honestly gives you a boost and you want to mimic everything that you see him do. We kind of have the same type of injuries, so I’ve torn his ear off with all of the questions I’ve asked.”

A few weeks ago, Penny talked about how all of the negativity on social media over his litany of injuries had affected his mindset in his first two or three years in Seattle. It’s not a big stretch to hypothesize that a lot of his ailments became psychosomatic – he was so mentally beaten down that he did not think he could stay healthy. So, he never did.

Peterson clearly knocked that destructive thinking out of his head, and you have to hope this is the actual beginning of his career — over three years delayed.

As he said after his big game against Arizona, “I feel like my journey is just beginning.

We are firm in the proposed strategy of drafting or otherwise upgrading the running back position. If the Hawks also want to bring back Penny, their best offer should be not much more than the minimum ($1.035 million), with incentives. No guarantees.

If another team wants to pay him more, great. Let him see whether he can stay healthy there instead.

Other observations

The Seahawks should be comfortable trading Bobby Wagner this year. Jordyn Brooks had a good second season, and Cody Barton looked capable of being a cheap replacement in the middle. They combined for 32 tackles in Arizona, Brooks hitting team records for a game and season as Wagner sat out with a sprained knee. Brooks called it “a little bittersweet. I know if Bobby was still playing, he would still hold it, so I feel like it wasn’t a fair shot.”

After a terrible first three months, Carlos Dunlap finished on a tear – playing like we expected him to from the start. He sacked Kyler Murray twice and hit him three other times, while also making two tackles for loss and batting a pass. He had seven sacks in his final four games, finishing with 8.5 for the season. Poor rotations had a lot to do with his early lack of impact. Let’s see him and Darrell Taylor get the chance to do it even better next year. Dunlap is four sacks shy of 100 and said, “I’m going to get that next year — and early.”

The Seahawks ended up with the 10th pick in the draft, which of course belongs to the Jets via the Adams trade in 2020. Barring a trade that brings another first-rounder or some other move, Seattle’s first pick is slated to be No. 41 overall – exactly the average spot of their first pick over the past nine drafts.

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