It was announced yesterday that Chris Carson has retired. Really, it’s more of a medically-induced forced retirement, because I would say if it weren’t for a spinal injury, he’d have many more yards left to gain.
Carson packed a lot into his 5-year career. Even though he was a 7th round draft pick, you could tell right away that this was a different type of running back. He came to us in kind of a fallow period for Seahawks running backs. 2015 was Marshawn Lynch’s last year here, but by then Thomas Rawls appeared to be the heir apparent. That was short-lived, as 2016 was not only a step-back for him, but for the entire running game, with Christine Michael leading the way with less than 500 yards. 2017 was a running back nadir for this team; Russell Wilson led the team in rushing with 586 yards, and the next guy on the list was Mike Davis with 240.
However, even though Carson finished his rookie season with only 208 yards, he made quite an impression. It was unfortunate that his year ended with injury after 4 games, because if he’d stuck around, he surely would’ve propped up the entire running back room with his powerful running style.
Carson returned mostly healthy in 2018 and had back-to-back 1,000 yard seasons. However, he could never quite make it a full year unscathed. By 2020, injuries were starting to encroach more and more, culminating in another 4-game season in 2021, with his neck injury leading us to this point.
He finishes his career 8th in Seahawks history with 3,502 rushing yards. It’s right where you’d expect him to be, with the usual suspects in the top 7: Shaun Alexander, Chris Warren, Curt Warner, Marshawn Lynch, Russell Wilson, John L. Williams, and Ricky Watters all ahead of him. It’s impossible to project where he could’ve ended up had he stayed healthy, because that’s a relative term. Even if he didn’t have this spinal issue, you have to imagine there’d be usual bumps and bruises that would limit him at times.
But, I’ll say this: at his peak, there weren’t many guys I’d rather have on my team. Chris Carson was indeed one of the best running backs in the NFL. Good vision, great size, fierce tenacity to get those extra yards. He was the true heir apparent to Marshawn Lynch, and it’s just a damn shame he couldn’t extend his career out a few more years.
The only frustrating thing about his career was the fact that you never had any idea when it would happen, but make no mistake, you always knew an injury was lurking around every corner. In the early going, I’d cheer like crazy whenever he ran over a guy for a few extra yards. But, by the end, I was wincing every time he took any sort of hit.
In the end, Carson joins a long line of Seahawks legends who’ve had their careers cut drastically short in recent years due to injury. But, ultimately, you can’t risk it. You can’t risk being paralyzed just for the game of football. The note that came out says the Seahawks “took care of him” by … whatever they did when they released him. He’s supposedly getting a few extra million dollars on the way out, which is only right.
The real tragedy of it all is the fact that we could never really build a winner around him. Carson got saddled in a stupid period of Seahawks football, post-LOB, but still with Russell Wilson at the helm. In his five years, we made the playoffs three times, and went 1-3 in those games. And he didn’t even get to be part of the lone victory, thanks to being on IR by that point in the season.
Oh, what might’ve been. Still, I’ll always look back fondly on a punishing runner with sky-high potential.