Jake and Stacy: Seahawks hit ‘home run’ by re-signing RB Chris Carson
The Seahawks have long had a reputation of a physical running football team. That reputation will reportedly be continuing for another two years as reports surfaced late last week that two-time 1,000-yard rusher Chris Carson will be back in Seattle on a two-year deal.
According to ESPN’s Brady Henderson, Carson’s deal is technically a three-year deal, but the third and final year is a voidable year. Carson’s new contract is effectively a two-year deal with a max salary of $14.625 million, with $5.5 million guaranteed. As of Monday afternoon, the Seahawks have not made the signing official.
Chris Carson's deal (3 years but voids after 2) has $5.5M fully guaranteed and a $4.5M signing bonus
2021: $1M guaranteed base, $1.4M in incentives, cap # of $2.5M
2022: $4.5M base, $425K in per-game bonuses, $1.4M in incentives, $1.4M base salary escalator
Max value: $14.625M
— Brady Henderson (@BradyHenderson) March 20, 2021
The news that Carson will remain with the Seahawks came late in the day last Friday, so 710 ESPN Seattle’s Jake and Stacy didn’t get to react to the report on air until Monday morning. Both are big fans of the move.
“I honestly didn’t think this was a possibility,” Jake Heaps said. “I didn’t think that the Seahawks were going to be able to get him back, especially when Aaron Jones (re-signed with Green Bay on a big deal early in the offseason).”
Jones signed a four-year deal worth up to $48 million. Heaps called Carson the next-best free-agent running back after Jones, and that in most years, Carson would be getting more money than the Seahawks are reportedly paying him.
“But for the Seahawks, fortunately, they were able to get him back and it is an absolute home run deal for the Seahawks,” he said. “To be able to get him on this type of contract … I don’t think you can point to this contract and go, ‘You’re (giving) way too much money to Chris Carson.’ He is an impact player for this team. He is a guy who fits perfectly with the new offensive system that (new offensive coordinator) Shane Waldron is bringing in, and he fits perfectly with (head coach Pete Carroll’s) desire to have a running game that has an impact, that commands a presence on the field.”
Co-host Stacy Rost called the signing “the right move to make” for the Seahawks, as it offers Seattle the chance to field “a more potent offense” in 2021.
“I would have worried what your offense would have looked like without him,” she said.
Carson entered the NFL in 2017 when the Seahawks selected him in the seventh round, making him one of the most affordable starting running backs in the league over the last few years. There is a thought around running backs that due to injuries and the general wear and tear that comes with the position, that paying running backs a second contract can be a bad move. Rost doesn’t think that’s the case here.
“For the most part that’s fair, but I can’t stress this enough: For Pete Carroll’s offense, you need that guy,” she said. “For Pete Carroll’s offense to be successful, you can’t have this interchangeable rotation at running back. We’ve seen that tried and fail.”
In 2017, the Seahawks were without a clear No. 1 running back after Marshawn Lynch retired, and quarterback Russell Wilson led the team in rushing yards and touchdowns. In fact, only one running back on the roster, J.D. McKissic, rushed for a touchdown that year. The next year, Carson was the No. 1 back on the roster and rushed for over 1,000 yards in 14 games, and he followed that up with another 1,000-yard campaign in 2019.
Carson’s production on the ground took a hit in 2020 due to him missing four games, as well as that the Seahawks threw the ball more than usual. But Carson did rush for a career-high 4.8 yards per carry and had 10 total touchdowns, including four receiving scores.
With Waldron coming to the Seahawks from the Los Angeles Rams, Heaps thinks Carson can help Waldron fix some of what went wrong with Seattle’s offense over the second half of the 2020 season.
“I think (in 2020) they were caught in between in terms of the style in which they wanted to play and yet also trying to be conscientious of trying to keep Chris Carson healthy,” Heaps said. “At some point you’ve just got to let the guy go and I think they will find that nice happy medium this season. I am very confident in that, I’m very excited about that and they have a true difference-maker at the running back position that is going to make this offense very balanced and it’s also going to add a physical presence to it with the offensive line and with Chris Carson coming downhill … I think they’re putting themselves in a position where they can be not only as good as (last year’s franchise-record-setting offense), but even better and do it at the right times.”
What about Rashaad Penny?
Carson has shown that when he’s on the field, he is a difference-making running back and is among the NFL’s best at the position. The issue is he hasn’t always been available.
His rookie season ended after four games due to an ankle injury, he missed two games in 2018 due to injury, he suffered a season-ending hip injury in Week 16 of 2019 and a foot injury sidelined him for four games a year ago.
Rost thinks that the Seahawks learned a key lesson over the last few years before handing Carson this new deal.
“He’ll probably miss a game or two (each season because he is) a downhill, physical runner,” she said. “… How do (the Seahawks) adapt if Chris Carson is out?”
The first thought would be Rashaad Penny, Seattle’s first-round pick back in 2018.
Penny, like Carson, has had his share of injuries. He missed two games his rookie season and then, after seemingly finding his footing in the second half of 2019, he tore his ACL in Week 14. He returned late in 2020 and played sparingly in Seattle’s final three regular season games, but he was inactive for the Seahawks’ playoff loss.
Heaps thinks Penny, while friends with Carson, likely wanted the veteran back to depart in free agency because he would have then assumed the No. 1 back role. Now, with Carson back for two more years and Penny on the last year of his rookie deal, Penny will have to show he can make plays in a more limited role.
“If Rashaad Penny can stay healthy and he can prove to everybody in his fourth year in the league that he’s a guy that can be reliable, he’s a guy who could step up if Chris Carson went down,” Heaps said, also noting that Penny offers Seattle a chance to have a potent 1-2 punch at running back between Carson and Penny.
Jake & Stacy