Has Seahawks RB Carson earned the right to talk contract before the season?

Sep 3, 2020, 10:37 AM
Seahawks RB Chris Carson...
Chris Carson says he and the Seahawks haven't discussed a new contract this offseason. (Getty)

A few running backs from the 2017 NFL Draft class have received contract extensions – most recently, second-round pick Joe Mixon with the Bengals – while some are in talks for a long-term deal such as the Saints’ Alvin Kamara. In Seattle, Seahawks running back Chris Carson, does not appear to be inching closer to a new contract as he’s set to be a free agent after the 2020 season.

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“Not really,” Carson told reporters when asked if he and the Seahawks have talked about a contract extension this offseason.

Carson, who turns 26 next month, has emerged as a true No. 1 running back over the last two seasons, but the Seahawks have also invested in the position in the draft each of the last three years, selecting Rashaad Penny in the first round in 2018, Travis Homer in the sixth round in 2019 and this last draft, DeeJay Dallas in the fourth round.

So the question that 710 ESPN Seattle’s Tom, Jake and Stacy attempted to answer on Thursday after hearing Carson’s comments was whether he’s earned the right to negotiate a new contract before the 2020 regular season begins.

Stacy Rost said she thinks that Carson has earned that right, but she also compares him to other running backs like the Titans’ Derrick Henry and the Vikings’ Dalvin Cook. Henry got franchise tagged and then signed a long-term deal while Cook, a 2017 second-round pick, has also been trying to get a long-term deal from his team.

“In (the cases of Henry and Cook), I think you’d say yeah (they’ve earned the right to those talks),” Rost said. “With Chris Carson, you compare him to those guys and you think OK, he’s also rushing for 1,000-plus yards in back to back seasons, but the touchdown production and the injury history are the two differences there.”

Since Carson took over as a full-time starter in 2018, he has 18 total touchdowns in 29 games. Cook has 17 total touchdowns in 25 games while Henry has 30 in that same time frame. But Carson’s numbers the last two years are still very good, with 2,810 total yards since the beginning of 2018, and his importance to the team is big because of Seattle’s identity on offense.

“So what I’ll say is yes, Chris Carson has earned the right to push for this but that’s less the result of just his on-field production and more of a combination of his on-field production plus his importance to a team that relies on this kind of 50-50 balance on offense,” Rost said. “You can’t have Seattle’s philosophy and not have a great running back.”

Former NFL quarterback Jake Heaps said that Carson doesn’t have leverage to get talks going before next offseason when he’s a free agent for a number of reasons.

“I think the cap space is not on his side,” Heaps said. “I think the fact that he has been used and utilized in the passing game but is not considered a dual-threat running back and the guys that are getting paid are dual-threat running backs or are running backs who were high first-round picks who been mainstays or staples of their particular offense.”

The other issue with Carson looking for a new deal is that running backs aren’t viewed as highly as they were a decade or even five years ago.

“Chris Carson (was a) seventh-round pick, is a guy that I think has been outstanding and one of the best pure running backs in football, but they don’t get paid the same way right now and especially with the overall view of how running backs are treated, I think that that’s important to note for Chris Carson,” Heaps said.

Tom Wassell thinks Carson’s play has warranted the ability to start negotiating, but wondered if Carson’s brief comment tells the whole story.

“When he says ‘not really,’ we don’t know what the extent of that means,” Wassell said. “But I think based on his play he’s earned the right to talk before the season. I wouldn’t want to be talking during the season if I were him, but we’ll see.”

Listen to the full first hour of Thursday’s Tom, Jake and Stacy at this link or in the player below.

Follow 710 ESPN Seattle’s Tom Wassell, Jake Heaps and Stacy Rost on Twitter.

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Has Seahawks RB Carson earned the right to talk contract before the season?