Seahawks running back Chris Carson calls it a career after suffering a serious neck injury last year, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported Tuesday morning.
Later in the day, the Seahawks officially released Carson with a missed injury designation. According to Rapoport, the Seahawks releasing Carson in this manner will allow him to “receive several million dollars” in injury protection benefits.
The veteran running back only played four games a year ago due to a neck injury that ultimately required cervical fusion surgery.
After missing three games last year, Carson has been slated to return to practice. But the 27-year-old didn’t turn the corner as head coach Pete Carroll and the Seattle coaching staff had hoped, and his season ended soon after. Carson’s status was a question mark from then on whether he could play for Seattle or any team again.
The Seahawks selected Carson in the seventh round of the 2017 NFL Draft from Oklahoma State, and he quickly climbed the depth chart, appearing in three games and making four starts as a rookie. Carson flashed in those games, rushing for 208 yards on 49 carries, but a serious ankle injury ended his season after just those four games.
Carson returned in 2018 and assumed the starting role despite the Seahawks selecting running back Rashaad Penny in the first round of that year’s draft. He rushed for 1,151 yards in 15 games and then followed that up with a 1,230 yard season in 2019, but his season ended in the Seahawks’ second-to-last game due to a hip injury. He missed the season finale and Seattle’s two playoff games as a result.
Carson was leading the Seahawks again in 2020, but his production and touches dropped in 12 games as he rushed for less than 700 yards. He missed four games that year due to a foot injury.
Overall, Carson has rushed for 3,502 yards and 24 touchdowns on 769 carries since being drafted. He also added 107 receptions for 804 yards and seven scores.
— Seattle Seahawks (@Seahawks) December 16, 2018
The Seahawks have Penny, rookie second-round pick Ken Walker III, Travis Homer and DeeJay Dallas remaining on the roster in the running back room.
The Seahawks also released reserve linebacker Ben Burr-Kirven with a failed physical designation. Burr-Kirven would return to injured reserve for Seattle if he clears waivers. The Seahawks also placed four players on the physically unable to play list: CB Tre Brown, LB Jon Rhattigan, OL Liam Ryan and LB Tyreke Smith.
Brown and Rhattigan are still recovering from knee injuries suffered last season.
Seattle Sports Reaction
When Rapoport’s report went live, Seattle Sports 710 AM’s Bump and Stacy were talking to fellow Seattle Sports host Dave Wyman. Both Michael Bumpus and Wyman are former Seahawks players and current Hawks analysts, with Bumpus hosting pregame and postgame coverage while Wyman calls plays alongside Steve Raible . Rost was also the station’s Seahawks insider for several years.
“It’s so shameful,” said Wyman, who emphasized his perspective as someone who has only played three of his nine healthy NFL seasons. “…It’s such a shame to have such a talented guy because, to me, Chris Carson at his best is a top five running back. It’s a real shame, but I think it’s a (decision) easy for him, right? You don’t want to play with your neck.
Bumpus said the news came as no surprise to him due to the severity of the neck injury, adding that retiring made a lot of sense for Carson considering he’s only 27.
“He can still do a bunch of other things, maybe become a coach if that’s what he wants to do,” Bumpus said.
Bumpus agreed with Wyman that Carson at his best was a top running back. He also noted that Carson was a perfect match for what Carroll wanted from Seahawks running backs.
“He brought the physique that Pete Carroll wants his team to be today,” he said.
Rost explained how Carroll seemed to enjoy Carson’s style of play.
“I’ve always seen Chris Carson as a Pete Carroll running back. And the way Carroll was talking about Chris Carson, you just get the feeling that’s exactly the skill, the dedication, the physicality, the ‘wanting’ what Pete Carroll wants to see in players, especially in running backs. I’ve always had that feeling. In all my time covering Carson, but also hearing Pete Carroll talk about Carson on a regular basis, I’ve always said that It was a running back from Pete Carroll. And fittingly, Chris Carson became the first running back since Marshawn Lynch to get the Seahawks 1,000 yards from a halfback.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.