How Chris Carson’s Planned Retirement Impacts Seahawks

Chris Carson, Seahawks
NFL Analysis Network

The Seattle Seahawks have had some massive turnover this offseason on both sides of the ball. Franchise quarterback Russell Wilson was traded to the Denver Broncos, while Bobby Wagner was released. The Wagner move hurts even more when you take into account that he signed with their division rival and reigning Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams.

You can add another stalwart to the list, as running back Chris Carson is going to be released by the team. However, that is a procedural move so that Carson can continue being paid, as he is going to be released with an injury designation and he is planning to retire.

Carson suffered a neck injury after appearing in four games last season. But, doubt began to rise among some people in the organization that Carson would get cleared to return as head coach Pete Carrol described the operation that he underwent as fusion surgery. Full range of motion still hadn’t been achieved last month according to Carroll, as Carson was concerned about his playing future.

Having a career cut short by injury is always difficult to process, but Carson did accomplish a lot in a short period of time with the Seahawks. In 2017 he came to the team as a seventh-round pick, but by 2018 he was the starting running back, beating out Eddie Lacy first and then Rasaad Penny the year after.

“Ever since the first time I saw Chris on film, I loved his style, and I was thrilled when we were able to get him when we did,” Carroll said in a statement Tuesday. “To see him grow and become such an impacting part of our program with such a great style and all of that, it was a thrill to watch. We’ll miss him and everything he brought to our program.”

In 49 games, Carson ran the ball 769 times, gaining 3,502 yards and scoring 24 touchdowns. He was the first running back since Marshawn Lynch in 2013 and 2014 to record back-to-back 1,000+ yard rushing seasons. Carson also added 107 receptions for 804 yards and seven more scores.

“He’s been an incredible pro, a guy who brings an amazing energy about him. His running style is what we’ve always wanted here in Seattle. He’s the type of runner that the whole team feeds off of. The type of player defensive players get off the bench to watch him run –they can feel his energy. He’s the type of runner whose style affects the whole team, not just the offense.

“It’s a big disappointment. We took it as long as we possibly could with him, he saw a number of specialists, but unfortunately he wasn’t able to pass our physical,” added general manager John Schneider.

With Carson no longer in the mix, the Seahawks backfield is going to be missing a key contributor. But, it seems like something that the team has been preparing for all offseason.

Penny was a free agent, but they re-signed him in March to a one-year deal worth $5,750,000. He received a $4 million signing bonus and all but $680,000 of the deal is guaranteed.

That kind of money for a running back would lead you to believe that Penny will have the first shot at replacing Carson as the starter. But, he will have some competition from Kenneth Walker III, who was selected in the second round of the 2022 NFL Draft out of Michigan State.

Walker will need to remain ready to play even if he starts the season as the backup. Penny has missed 30 out of a possible 69 games in his career, which includes postseason games. But, the San Diego State product has shown what he is capable of when healthy, as he led the NFL in rushing yards over the final five weeks of the 2021 season.

With either Drew Lock or Geno Smith starting at quarterback this season, the Seahawks will likely rely heavily on their running game to try and keep them competitive. Penny and Walker will receive work early and often, as Carroll is a run-first head coach already.