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Seahawks RB Chris Carson
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Heaps: Chris Carson will be Seahawks’ starting running back in 2021

Chris Carson is entering free agency for the first time this offseason. (Getty)

If Pete Carroll’s recent comments are any indication about the Seahawks’ offense in 2021, you can expect more of a ground attack when Seattle hits the field next season.

Offseason Primer: Seahawks’ player and coaching decisions for ’21

After starting 2020 with a high-flying passing offense, that group slowed down in a big way over the second half of the season when big plays were much harder to come by. As a result, Carroll made it clear he’d like to get back to running the football more against teams that use two-high safeties deep against them.

While Carroll may want the Seahawks to run the ball more, that could prove difficult given the state of the roster.

The Seahawks’ two top rushers in 2020 – Chris Carson and Carlos Hyde – are free agents, and that leaves oft-injured  2018 first-round pick Rashaad Penny, 2019 sixth-round pick Travis Homer and 2020 fourth-round pick DeeJay Dallas as the running backs signed for 2021.

Former Seahawks quarterback Jake Heaps was asked who he thinks Seattle will have starting at running back come Week 1 in 2021, and the current co-host of 710 ESPN Seattle’s Jake and Stacy explained why he has a “hard time believing it’s going to be anybody else but Chris Carson.”

“Maybe I’m in denial, but I just don’t think that Chris Carson is going to demand that much money on the open market that maybe people think he will,” Heaps said. “I really think he’s going to be around that $8 million range. And if he’s in that range, I believe this team will be extremely interested in having Chris Carson as your running back.”

Carson, a 2017 seventh-round pick, is set to receive his first big payday this offseason after earning a career-high $2.1 million in 2020. Carson rushed for over 1,000 yards in both 2018 and 2019, but his numbers dropped in 2020 for a few reasons: Seattle passed more early in the year, and he missed four games due to injury. He finished 2020 with 681 rushing yards, 287 receiving yards and nine total touchdowns.

“If not (Carson), who are you going to have an effective ground game with? Alex Collins? Rashaad Penny, who hasn’t made it through a season? DeeJay Dallas? Travis Homer? I’m not buying that,” Heaps said. “So you need some serious help and I think that Chris Carson, having him back would be a great, great boost for your team.”

Heaps thinks Carson getting $7-8 million annually from the Seahawks would be a good signing all around, and it would surprise him if Carson signed elsewhere. If Carson does walk in free agency, there’s another route Seattle could go in terms of running back.

“Maybe I’m wrong and they end up going the inexpensive route and they try and bring in somebody like Carlos Hyde,” Heaps said, referring to the Seahawks’ No. 2 back in 2020 who rushed for 356 yards and four touchdowns. “I’m not saying him necessarily, but somebody like him at $2-2.5 million to be your leading back in 2021.”

Listen to the full discussion at this link or in the player below.

Follow Brandon Gustafson on Twitter.

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Jake & Stacy