Chris Carson reportedly retires, officially released by Seahawks

Seahawks running back Chris Carson is calling it a career after suffering a serious neck injury last year, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported Tuesday morning.

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Later in the day, the Seahawks officially released Carson with a failed injury designation. Per Rapoport, the Seahawks releasing Carson in that way will allow him to “receive several million” dollars in injury protection benefits.

The veteran running back played just four games a year ago due to a neck injury that ultimately required cervical fusion surgery.

After missing three games last year, Carson was designated to return to practice. But the 27 year old didn’t turn the corner like head coach Pete Carroll and Seattle’s training staff hoped, and his season ended shortly thereafter. Carson’s status was a question mark from that point onward, with it unclear whether he would be able to play again for Seattle or for any team.

The Seahawks selected Carson in the seventh round of the 2017 NFL Draft out of Oklahoma State, and he quickly rose up 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 severe 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, then followed 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 again the Seahawks’ lead back in 2020, but his production and touches dipped in 12 games as he rushed for under 700 yards. He missed four games that year with a foot injury.

Overall, Carson has tallied 3,502 rushing yards and 24 touchdowns on 769 carries since he was drafted. He also added 107 receptions for 804 yards and seven scores.

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 revert to injured reserve for Seattle if he clears waivers. The Seahawks also placed four player on the physically unable to perform 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 serving as the host of pregame and postgame coverage while Wyman calls the games alongside Steve Raible. Rost has also served as the station’s Seahawks insider for several years.

“It’s such a shame man,” said Wyman, who noted his perspective as someone who played only three of his nine NFL seasons fully healthy. ” … It”s such a shame when you have a guy that’s that talented because, to me, Chris Carson at his best is a top five running back. It’s really a shame, but I think it’s an easy (decision) for him, right? You don’t want to mess around with your neck.”

Bumpus said this news didn’t surprise him because of the neck injury being so serious, adding that retiring makes a lot of sense for Carson given he’s only 27 years old.

“He can still do a whole bunch of other things, maybe get into coaching if that’s what he wants to do,” Bumpus said.

Bumpus agreed with Wyman that Carson at his best has been a top-tier running back. He also noted that Carson perfectly fit what Carroll wanted from Seahawks running backs.

“He brought the physicality that Pete Carroll wants his team to be today,” he said.

Rost expanded on how Carroll seemed to appreciate Carson’s style of play.

“I always saw Chris Carson as being a Pete Carroll running back. And the way that Carroll would speak about Chris Carson, you just got the feeling that this is exactly the skill, the dedication, the physicality, the ‘want to’ that Pete Carroll wants to see in players, particularly in running backs. I always got that impression. In the entirety of my time covering Carson, but also hearing Pete Carroll talk about Carson regularly, was always that this is a Pete Carroll running back. 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.

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