The Seattle Seahawks have said all the right things when it comes to Chris Carson’s future with the team, but the running back is expected to draw plenty of attention in free agency. Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll indicated on several occasions that the team wants to bring back Carson, and the coach’s end-of-the-season statement on wanting to run the ball more in 2021 would seemingly bode well for the running back.
That is unless the Seahawks privately wonder if Carson can continue to withstand the punishment needed to be the team’s lead back. Carson missed four games last season as he battled multiple injuries but was only absent a total of three contests in his previous two years.
Pro Football Focus predicts the Seahawks will be outbid by the Bills this offseason. The site’s prediction has Carson signing a three-year, $27 million contract with Buffalo including $10 million of guaranteed money when he potentially inks the deal. Buffalo’s rushing attack was nearly non-existent in the playoffs after Zack Moss went down with an injury.
“Chris Carson has had as strong of a start to his career as possible after being selected 249th overall in 2017 (26th running back taken),” PFF explains. “Nevertheless, Seattle drafted Rashaad Penny in the first round in 2018 and added DeeJay Dallas in the fourth round in 2020, which could signal they’re looking to replace Carson — not retain him.”
ALL the latest Seahawks news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Seahawks newsletter here!
The Athletic Predicts the Seahawks Will Not Re-Sign Carson
The Athletic’s Michael-Shawn Dugar also thinks Carson has played his last game in a Seahawks’ uniform. Spotrac estimates Carson’s market value is a four-year, $29.6 million deal with an average annual salary of $7.4 million. Dugar cited this figure as higher than he believes the Seahawks are willing to pay.
“It would be surprising if Carroll spent big on a running back, even a ‘homegrown’ one like Carson,” Dugar explained. “Marshawn Lynch signed a two-year, $24 million extension in 2015 but that was after consecutive Pro Bowl nods and back-to-back Super Bowl appearances. …Because of the $8 million salary floor that the franchise tag unofficially sets, Carson is unlikely to take a deal averaging less than that on a long-term extension. Seattle is unlikely to spend any more than that on a long-term deal, meaning Carson will be running through defenders for another team in 2021.”
Carroll on Carson: ‘I Do Know Chris Has Got to — He’ll Look Out for Himself’
If the Seahawks move on from Carson, the question is who the team would replace their starting running back with as heading into next season with Rashaad Penny and DeeJay Dallas as the lead rushers feels like a gamble, at best. This points to a major problem as Carroll indicated he wants to run the ball more and would likely have to sign a player in free agency that is less talented than Carson if he leaves. The good news for the Seahawks is few teams value running backs quite like Seattle, but the franchise also has a history of not getting into a bidding war if another team comes calling.
“I do know Chris has got to — he’ll look out for himself,” Carroll explained in December 2020, per The Seattle Times. “So he’s got to see what the situation is. We would love for him to be with us. He’s been a terrific part of our team, and hopefully we can keep that going. In my mind, I can’t imagine anything else happening. But from the business side of it, he’s got a chance to see what’s going on, and so hopefully we’ll be able to figure it out and keep him.”
After two straight seasons notching more than 1,000 rushing yards, Carson had 681 yards and five touchdowns in 2020. Carson also added 37 receptions for 287 yards and four touchdowns.