After five injury-riddled NFL seasons, Chris Carson is calling it a career. The 27-year-old Seahawks running back is retiring from football due to a lingering neck issue, according to NFL Media. Seattle will technically release Carson, a former 1,000-yard rusher, with a failed physical designation, allowing the veteran to collect injury protection benefits, but his playing days are over.
The news, while notable, wasn’t necessarily unexpected. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll hinted in June that Carson might be forced to hang up the cleats due to the neck injury that sidelined him for all but four games in 2021. Carson was previously excused from mandatory minicamp while rehabbing, as doctors had yet to clear him for a return to the field. The former seventh-round draft pick underwent vertebrae-fusion surgery in December, limiting his range of motion.
“It’s just hard on him,” Carroll said at the time, per ESPN. “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. 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. We’re trying to fight that off and he knows that. He’s battling. He’s doing everything he can and he wants to compete all the way until the last word.”
At his best, Carson served as the workhorse of the Seahawks’ run-heavy offense, topping 1,100 rushing yards in back-to-back seasons from 2018-2019, when he scored a combined 17 touchdowns. The former Oklahoma State back was also effective in 2020 despite missing four games with a foot injury, totaling nearly 1,000 yards from scrimmage and averaging nearly five yards per carry. Injuries were a lingering issue, however, preventing him from ever playing a full NFL season.