The Seattle Seahawks were about to head into training camp with one of the more exciting backfield groups in the NFL. Unfortunately, one of those running backs is being forced to end his NFL career earlier than he wanted to.
NFL Network insider Ian Rapaport tweeted on Tuesday, July 26 that Seahawks running back Chris Carson is retiring from the NFL due to a neck injury that he suffered during the 2021 season. Rapaport followed up by stating that Carson won’t make an official retirement announcement in case his neck injury drastically improves, but that the star player will have to retire at the moment.
The Seahawks will at least do right by Carson by releasing him with a failed physical designation, which will allow him to receive several million dollars in injury protection benefits. Rapaport noted that the Seahawks had done something similar to help former players included Kam Chancellor and Cliff Avril get paid after having to retire early.
Chris Carson’s Football Career
Despite retiring at just 27 years old, Carson remains one of the bigger draft steals in Seahawks history after a strong five seasons in the NFL.
Carson was a JUCO transfer before spending the remaining two seasons of his college eligibility with the Oklahoma State Cowboys. While he was never a workhorse for the Big 12 program, Carson still had a productive final college year in 2016, rushing for 559 yards and nine touchdowns while averaging 6.8 yards per carry.
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A strong senior season helped Carson generate enough buzz to get drafted, albeit in the seventh round and the 249th overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft by the Seahawks. He saw limited action as a rookie, but burst onto the scene in his second season.
Starting in 14 games in 2018, Carson eclipsed 1,000 rushing yards in just his second year in the league, finishing the season with 1,151 yards and nine touchdowns on the ground. He followed that up with another 1,230 yards and seven touchdowns on 2019, making him the go-to running back in Seattle.
A foot injury in 2020 kept Carson out for four games, but he finished the year with his best production catching passes out of the backfield and racked up nearly 1,000 scrimmage yards with nine total touchdowns.
Unfortunately, 2021 was likely Carson’s final season in the league after he suffered a serious neck injury just four games into the season. The 27-year-old had remained positive that he could return to the team at some point in 2022, but the seriousness of his neck injury means that his NFL career will be coming to an end.
Seattle’s Backfield Without Chris Carson
The Seahawks will now head into training camp without one of their more reliable running backs from the last few seasons. However, the team still has a pair of talented players that will help stabilize the backfield in 2022.
Rashaad Penny will return to the team after being one of the most efficient rushers in the NFL last season, averaging 6.3 yards per carry. The 26-year-old is looking to shed his “bust” label after being taken in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft as he looks for the first 1,000-yard rushing season of his career.
Penny will have some help in the backfield with rookie Kenneth Walker III joining the team. Walker was taken with the 41st overall pick in this year’s draft after an electric season with Michigan State. The Seahawks rookie was the Doak Walker and Walter Camp Award winner in his final college season after rushing for 1,636 yards and 18 touchdowns on 263 carries.
Losing Carson will be a big blow for the Seahawks, but fortunately the team has enough depth that the running back position that they should be able to establish the run once again in 2022.