Written by Chris Kubala
In the NFL landscape, it’s always a tough time in free agency for running backs when it comes to tracking down a new deal. Once a back hits 27 or 28 years of age, the demand for a back is lower and the opportunities to cash in for a big payday drop by a wide margin. That means that guys that have been productive for several years now have to take a shorter deal, likely for less money, and end up being part of a timeshare in a backfield. The days of having a bell cow back who will tote the ball 300 to 350 times a year are all but forgotten at this stage in time. Last year, only two backs cracked the 300-carry mark as Derrick Henry had 303 carries and Ezekiel Elliott had 301. Nick Chubb of the Browns came close with 298.
One of those backs who has had their issues trying to find stability in recent years is Carlos Hyde. The back, who turns 30 in September, was a second-round pick of the 49ers back in the 2014 season. He spent four years with the 49ers, totaling 2,729 yards and 21 scores on the ground while adding 109 catches for 634 yards and three scores. In both 2016 and 2017, Hyde eclipsed the 900-yard mark on the ground and compiled 14 rushing scores. At the end of the 2017 season, he became a free agent and inevitably signed a three-year deal worth $15 million with the Browns.
His time with Cleveland was short-lived as he was dealt after just six games in a Browns uniform. Hyde was traded to Jacksonville for a fifth-round pick as the Jaguars needed a back to help replace Leonard Fournette, who played just eight games on the year. It proved to be a disappointing stint with the Jaguars, as Hyde ran the ball 58 times for just 189 yards without finding the end zone. All told, his 2018 season with the Browns and Jaguars led to a total of 172 carries for 571 yards and five scores with a 3.3-yard per carry average. Jacksonville cut him loose after the season and he signed a deal with the Chiefs to add some depth to their running back group.
He was on the market before last season when Lamar Miller went down with a torn ACL that ended his season. As a result, the Texans traded for him shortly before the regular season began and he contributed. Hyde ran the ball 245 times for 1,070 yards and six scores as the lead back in the system. That marked the first 1,000-yard season in Hyde’s career despite playing only 50 percent of the offensive snaps as he was in a timeshare with Duke Johnson Jr, who was a pass catching option. After Houston acquired David Johnson from Arizona, Hyde became a non-factor for the team and left him looking for a new home.
On Friday, it seems that he found that spot as sources say that Hyde has agreed to a one-year deal worth up to $4 million with incentives with the Seattle Seahawks. The move is a sound one for the Seahawks, who dealt with issues at the running back position last season. Chris Carson dealt with a hip injury that ended his season last year while Rashaad Penny tore his ACL late in the season. He’s likely to being the year on the physically unable to perform list, which would open up some potential carries in the ground game. Seattle has been intent on trying to bring in another veteran back to be in the mix given Carson’s injury history and Penny still on the recovery trail. The only other backs on the roster before the signing were Travis Homer, a sixth-round pick last year, and fourth-round pick DeeJay Dallas.
Hyde wasn’t the top target for the Seahawks to bring into the mix. Seattle had offered the same type of deal to former Falcons’ running back Devonta Freeman but he turned it down as he wanted more money. As it stands, he’s still on the market with Hyde taking this contract. It’s a smart move for Hyde, who gets to play in a run-oriented offense and could be able to hit the market again next season in search of a more lucrative deal.