Seahawks running back Chris Carson won’t accomplish one of his main goals for the 2020 season — playing in every game. Carson missed four this year because of a sprained foot that continues to limit him in practice.
But Carson also wanted to make it through the season and into the playoffs. He missed the playoffs last season because of a hip injury, which compelled the Seahawks to bring back Marshawn Lynch.
Depending on how games involving Green Bay and New Orleans unfold, Carson would figure to be one player the Seahawks might limit during Sunday’s regular-season finale against the 49ers in Glendale, Ariz.
Since returning in a limited role against the Eagles on Nov. 30, Carson has hit a consistent stride the past four games — 13, 12, 15 and 16 carries for 65, 76, 63 and 69 yards, respectively.
That’s the kind of production the Seahawks want to see from Carson in the postseason, which also looms critical for his future.
Carson can be a free agent at the end of the season, and the increasing expectation is that he will test the market.
The Seahawks could re-sign Carson, but they also have Rashaad Penny back for one more year on his rookie deal. That could influence how avidly they try to keep Carson.
Carson said he knew teams wanted to see if he could stay healthy this season after suffering season-ending injuries in 2017 and 2019. The Seahawks undoubtedly are one of those teams.
He’s mostly done that this year while averaging 4.9 yards per carry, and that might help his stock. So would a strong playoff performance. In Carson’s only playoff game, in 2018 against Dallas, he had 20 yards on 13 carries.
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll on Wednesday seemed to acknowledge the likelihood that Carson will hit free agency.
“I do know Chris has got to — he’ll look out for himself,” Carroll said. “So he’s got to see what the situation is. We would love for him to be with us. He’s been a terrific part of our team, and hopefully we can keep that going. In my mind, I can’t imagine anything else happening.
“But from the business side of it, he’s got a chance to see what’s going on, and so hopefully we’ll be able to figure it out and keep him.”
One option could be a franchise or transition tag on Carson. Neither would be a long-term solution, but both would mean a significant payday for Carson. Joel Corry of CBSSports.com estimated this week that the franchise tag number for running backs could be $8.3 million in 2021. Carson is making $2.1 million this year.
But the Seahawks rarely use the tag, and it provides no salary-cap flexibility in a year they will have a number of offseason challenges.
They likely will try to sign safety Jamal Adams to a long-term contract. They will have to make decisions on other free agents such as cornerback Shaquill Griffin and linebacker K.J. Wright, and determine whether to keep defensive end Carlos Dunlap, who has $14.1 million salary-cap hit in 2021.
Seattle is listed as having just under $18 million in cap space for 2021, according to OvertheCap.com.
The free-agent market has not been overly kind to running backs of late, with a few exceptions. Teams often believe they can find a suitable running back without breaking the bank. Among the running backs scheduled to be free agents are Arizona’s Kenyan Drake, Atlanta’s Todd Gurley, Tampa Bay’s Leonard Fournette as well as the Seahawks’ Carlos Hyde.
“I think Chris is really one of us, and he’s fit into the program great,” Carroll said Wednesday.
Whether he remains one of the Seahawks could be greatly influenced by the next few weeks.
Willson joins practice squad
As expected Tuesday when they created two openings on their practice squad, the Seahawks on Wednesday re-signed veteran tight end Luke Willson and linebacker Ray-Ray Armstrong.
The NFL this week announced that there will be no limit on how often a player can be elevated from the practice squad during the playoffs. That means both could see action for Seattle in the postseason, and is one reason the team brought them back.
Willson played in five games this year for Seattle without making a catch. After being waived he was picked up by Baltimore and played in three games for the Ravens with one catch for 12 yards before being waived again.
- Damon “Snacks” Harrison was claimed off waivers by Green Bay. He was waived Tuesday after telling the Seahawks he was not interested in playing for them after being inactive for Sunday’s win over the Rams. Harrison was taken off the exempt list Wednesday and practiced with the Packers.
- Carroll said second-year safety Marquise Blair is doing well in recovery from an ACL injury suffered in September. “It’s not going to be any problems for him getting back as far as everything I heard,” Carroll said.
- Carroll said the season is likely over for receiver Phillip Dorsett, who signed as a free agent in the spring and not has not played because of foot surgery. Carroll had indicated Dorsett could to return this year. “I don’t think Phillip is going to make it,” Carroll said. “I hate to cut him out, if we were fortunate to be playing a month from now. … He’s busting it. He’s doing a lot of good stuff, but it’s going to be a haul for him to make it back.”
- Six Seahawks sat out practice Wednesday: Hyde (illness), running back DeeJay Dallas (ankle), defensive backs Jayson Stanley (hamstring) and Damarious Randall (foot), guard Mike Iupati (neck) and tight end Greg Olsen (foot). Carson and Dunlap were among six who were limited. The others were offensive tackles Duane Brown (knee) and Brandon Shell (ankle), defensive tackle Jarran Reed (chest) and safety Ryan Neal (hip).