Seahawks running back Chris Carson (left) runs as Colts safety Julian Blackmon (32) tries to make a tackle during a game on Sept. 12, 2021, in Indianapolis. (Jeff Haynes/AP Images for Panini)

Seahawks running back Chris Carson (left) runs as Colts safety Julian Blackmon (32) tries to make a tackle during a game on Sept. 12, 2021, in Indianapolis. (Jeff Haynes/AP Images for Panini)

Seahawks RB Chris Carson likely retiring at age 27

Seattle releases the former 7th-round pick who did not play after the 4th game last season due to a neck injury that required surgery.

  • By Bob Condotta The Seattle Times
  • Wednesday, July 27, 2022 1:30am
  • Sports

By Bob Condotta / The Seattle Times

SEATTLE — The Seahawks on Tuesday released running back Chris Carson with a failed physical designation due to a lingering neck injury, and it is expected that he will be forced to retire at the age of 27.

The NFL Network first reported the news Tuesday stating Carson “won’t make a retirement statement, just in case his neck dramatically improves.” But if Carson cannot pass a physical he would not be able to play again. As the NFL Network reported, the failed physical designation given to him by the Seahawks will allow Carson to receive “several million” dollars in injury protection benefits.

Carson had one year remaining on a contract he signed in March 2021 that was due to pay him a non-guaranteed salary of $4.5 million this year. That contract included $5.5 million in guaranteed money.

Carson did not play after the fourth game of last season due to a neck issue that coach Pete Carroll said at the time was something Carson had been dealing with for a while and flared up after he played one half against the 49ers on Oct. 3. He then had cervical fusion surgery in December that the team hoped would allow him to continue to play.

However, Carson was not cleared to take part in OTAs and minicamp in the spring, and a statement from the team on Tuesday reported that he was again unable to pass a physical this week with training camp set to begin Wednesday.

“It’s a big disappointment,” Seahawks general manager John Schneider was quoted as saying via the team’s website. “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.”

Carroll was also quoted by the team’s website saying: “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. 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.”

Carroll in October said that Carson had been dealing with a neck injury for some time.

“He’s got an old injury that you can see (in exams),” Carroll said then. “It’s kind of, I don’t know if it’s chronic, but it occasionally pops up. It hasn’t been an issue in the past. He didn’t get hit, and that’s how he got hurt. It’s a condition he’s got probably from weightlifting and all of the stuff he’s done over the years. It could have been something a long time ago. It’s just flared up some, so we’re being real careful with him. He was too uncomfortable to play.”

When Carson was not able to get cleared to take part in the offseason program, Carroll spoke ominously of his future, admitting the team had talked with him about retiring.

“Our guys love this game that they grow up playing, and when they sense that there may be an end to it, it’s hard. It’s difficult, and it’s real,” Carroll said. “And we’re going to love him through it and help him as much as possible, if that’s the case, like we do with everybody when it comes to the end of it. It’s inevitable. It’s coming, but it’s always too soon, so we’re trying to fight that.”

Carson told in June he hoped to keep playing saying: “Oh, we still going right now. I see myself playing until I feel like stopping. My mindset is never to give up. So I’m staying positive like I said, and continue to fight and get back onto the field.”

But Tuesday’s news revealed the sad reality that Carson’s career appears over.

Carson leaves Seattle with a legacy of physical and powerful running style rivaled only by Marshawn Lynch during the Carroll era of Seahawks football, and of being one of the team’s best late-round draft picks in franchise history.

Carson came to Seattle as a seventh-round draft pick in 2017 out of Oklahoma State and emerged as one of the team’s best late-round selections in recent years, immediately earning a starting role. But his rookie season was cut short when he suffered a broken leg after four games and had to miss the rest of the year.

He played 41 of a possible 48 games over the following three seasons, though, rushing for a career-high 1,230 yards in 2019 — the highest single-season total for any Seahawk since Lynch in 2014.

Carson leaves the team eighth in franchise history in rushing with 3,502 yards and sixth in rushing touchdowns with 24. His 12 100-yard games since 2018 is fifth most in the NFL.

Seattle anticipated that Carson might not be able to play this season by drafting Ken Walker III out of Michigan State 41st overall in the second round in April. Seattle also re-signed Rashaad Penny to a one-year deal in March, and Penny and Walker now become the team’s running back duo heading into 2022 with Tuesday’s news on Carson.

Besides Penny and Walker Seattle has four other running backs on its roster: Travis Homer, DeeJay Dallas, Josh Johnson and Darwin Thompson.

But there will never be another Carson, a player who drew respect not only for his relentless running style but for his rags-to-riches story of overcoming an ACL injury in suffered during the homecoming game of his senior year at Parkview High in Lilburn, Ga., that led to him attending a junior college — he had been committed to Georgia — before resurrecting his career at Oklahoma State. He also talked often of his goal of buying a house for his family with his NFL money to replace one burned in a fire in 2013.

“It was something that we wanted to do and something I’m really blessed (to be able to do),” Carson said in April 2021.

At that time, he also marveled at his NFL road, from seventh-round pick to sought-after free agent.

“Me, I’m not supposed to be here,” said Carson, who made $3.7 million total in his first four years before signing his new contract in the spring of 2021. “You know, the odds are a seventh-rounder doesn’t get to free agency like that.”

“He’s been an incredible pro,” Schneider said in the release Tuesday. “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.”

“He’s been one of my favorite Seahawks ever,” Carroll said in June. “I’ve loved what he stood for and what he brought, and we’d love to have him back again. He’s a very special player and a very special competitor. We’ll keep our fingers crossed. … We’re all pulling for him.”

Some of Carson’s teammates took to social media after the news broke to pay tribute. Penny simply posted a picture of himself with Carson while fellow running back Travis Homer posted a clip of a Carson TD run with the words “dog mentality.”

Talk to us

More in Sports

Seattle Seahawks linebacker Jordyn Brooks (56) and safety Jamal Adams (33) talk during NFL football practice, Tuesday, June 6, 2023, at the team's facilities in Renton, Wash. (AP Photo/Lindsey Wasson)
5 things to watch during Seahawks’ mandatory minicamp

The camp is only three days long, but some clarity could arise on a number of issues.

Empty seats are shown at Husky Stadium during an NCAA college football game between Washington and Oregon State, Saturday, Nov. 14, 2020, in Seattle. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, fans were not permitted to attend the game. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
State football title games moving to Husky Stadium for ’23 season

The WIAA announced Tuesday a one-year agreement with the University of Washington to host the games for the upcoming season.

Giants pitcher Ryan Walker, an Arlington High School graduate, works against the Pirates during the sixth inning of a game on May 30 in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
Arlington graduate Walker reaches big leagues with Giants

The WSU alum was drafted in 2018 and has since climbed the minor-league ladder until his promotion to the majors on May 21.

Lake Stevens’ Cole Becker celebrates a touchdown with teammates after putting his team up against Kennedy Catholic in the WIAA 4A State Football Championship game Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022, at Mount Tahoma Stadium in Tacoma, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
2022-23 Herald Athletic Cup: Lake Stevens captures 1st place

The Vikings win the competition, which rewards local high schools for their overall athletic success, for the second straight year.

Spring 2023 All-Wesco teams

Note: All-Wesco teams are chosen by the league’s coaches. For any misspellings… Continue reading

AquaSox bullpen falters in 9th in loss to Canadians

Everett carries a two-run lead into the final inning, but a late grand slam lifts Vancouver to an 8-5 win.

San Diego Padres' Fernando Tatis Jr., right, gets up after safely steals second base as Seattle Mariners shortstop J.P. Crawford looks on during the fourth inning of a baseball game Wednesday, June 7, 2023, in San Diego. Tatis Jr. advanced to third on the throwing error by catcher Cal Raleigh. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
Kirby struggles, Mariners fall to Padres to split short series

The young righty gives up five runs and 11 hits in a season-low 3.2 innings as Seattle loses 10-3.

Everett Public Schools athletes of the year Jackson's Sylas Williams (left) and Cascade's Abby Surowiec (right) with Superintendent Ian Saltzman at the Everett Public Schools athletics awards banquet Thursday, June 1, 2023. (Photo courtesy of Everett Public Schools)
Student-athletes honored at Everett Public Schools banquet

Jackson’s Sylas Williams and Cascade’s Abby Surowiec were named the athletes of the year at the annual awards ceremony.

Schaeffer dominant in debut, AquaSox blank Canadians

The 2022 Seattle Mariners draft pick strikes out 10 in his first start after being promoted as Everett wins 2-0.

Most Read