Seahawks running back Chris Carson (32) carries the ball against 49ers defensive end Alex Barrett (64) and outside linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair (51) during a game Jan. 3, 2021, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Jennifer Stewart)

Seahawks running back Chris Carson (32) carries the ball against 49ers defensive end Alex Barrett (64) and outside linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair (51) during a game Jan. 3, 2021, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Jennifer Stewart)

Seahawks decline to use franchise tag

Seattle will let running back Chris Carson and cornerback Shaquill Griffin test free agency.

By Adam Jude / The Seattle Times

The Seattle Seahawks, as usual, will not be using their franchise tag this year.

That means high-profile players such as running back Chris Carson and cornerback Shaquill Griffin are officially heading into free agency when the new league year begins next week.

The Seahawks have used the franchise tag just twice since 2010, on kicker Olindo Mare in 2010 and defensive end Frank Clark in 2019. The tag on Clark bought time for the Seahawks to work out a trade with Kansas City a few weeks later.

The Seahawks on Monday released veteran defensive end Carlos Dunlap, freeing up about $14.1 million in cap space. projects the Seahawks currently have about $18.6 million in cap space.

A tag on Griffin would have cost roughly $15 million for 2021.

Griffin, 25, has been a starting cornerback the past four seasons for the Seahawks, and he had a career-high three interceptions in 12 games in 2020. He was named to the Pro Bowl in 2019.

ESPN ranks Griffin as the second-best cornerback available in this free-agent class and 21st overall among all free agents.

“I know at the end, it’s a business,” Griffin said in January, a day after the Seahawks’ playoff loss to the Rams. “The good thing is the coaching staff, the guys here (in) this organization know how much I love to be here (and) know how much this place means to me for giving me my first opportunity to be in this situation. … I owe them everything because of it. They know I want to be here. So at this point I’m just praying on it. I’m hoping for the best. And hopefully everything works out and hopefully I can be a Seahawk forever.”

A tag on Carson would have cost about $8 million for 2021.

Carson, a seventh-round pick in 2017, has been the Seahawks’ workhorse running back the past three seasons, but injuries have limited him each year. He had back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons in 2018 and 2019, but missed the 2019 playoffs because of a fractured hip.

He missed four games with a foot injury in 2020, but still managed to total 968 yards from scrimmage and nine touchdowns.

The deadline to use the franchise tag was 1 p.m. Tuesday.

According to NFL Network, nine teams used their franchise tag for this year: the Washington Football Team (G Brandon Scherff); Tampa Bay (WR Chris Godwin); Jacksonville (T Cam Robinson); New York Giants (DL Leonard Williams); Chicago (WR Allen Robinson); Carolina (T Taylor Moton); Denver (S Justin Simmons); New York Jets (S Marcus Maye); and New Orleans (S Marcus Williams).

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