While the fate of Seattle’s top two running backs from 2020 — Chris Carson and Carlos Hyde — remains uncertain heading into free agency, the Seahawks made a move Wednesday to bolster their depth in the backfield by re-signing Alex Collins to a one-year veteran salary benefit deal.
Collins played in three regular season games for Seattle last year as well as the playoff loss to the Rams after initially joining the Seahawks’ practice squad on Nov. 4.
He reverted to the practice squad after the loss to the Rams, and then saw his contract expire, making him a street free agent.
Collins becomes the fourth running back under contract for the 2021 season — the others being Rashaad Penny, DeeJay Dallas and Travis Homer.
Carson and Hyde can each become unrestricted free agents on March 17 if they do not re-sign with Seattle before then, and it’s unclear if the Seahawks will be able to retain either or both.
And with the fate of Carson and Hyde unclear, the return of Collins gives Seattle that much more depth at running back.
Collins was a fifth-round pick of the Seahawks in 2016 out of Arkansas and appeared in 11 regular season games that year with 125 yards on 31 carries.
He was waived prior to the 2017 season (in part due to the emergence of Carson, a seventh-round pick that year) and then signed with the Ravens, spending the 2017 and 2018 seasons with Baltimore, turning in a particularly good year in 2017 with 973 yards on 212 carries, an average of 4.6 per attempt.
Out of football in 2019, he re-emerged with Seattle last year when injuries hit the position and he had 77 yards on 18 carries in three games, scoring two touchdowns. Collins started a November loss to the Rams, gaining 43 yards on 11 carries with a touchdown, then helped put the finishing touches on the regular-season finale win against the 49ers with 29 yards on five carries and a TD. He played only on special teams in the wild-card playoff loss to the Rams.
Penny, a first-round pick in 2018, played three games late in the year but was injured for the playoff game (which compelled the team to add Collins to the roster for the game) and is entering the final season of his four-year rookie deal. Seattle could pick up an option for a fifth season but is generally viewed as unlikely to do so.
Homer battled injuries throughout the 2020 season after being taken in the sixth round out of Miami in 2019, playing in nine games with 88 yards on 25 carries.
Dallas, a fourth-round pick out of Miami in 2020, played in 12 games with 108 yards on 34 carries.
Seattle could add a fifth running back to the roster by making an offer to exclusive rights free agent Patrick Carr, who spent the 2020 season on injured reserve after joining the team last May as an undrafted free agent out of Houston.
With his time on both the practice squad and on the active gameday roster, Collins made $217,587 in 2020, according to OvertheCap.com.