Could Seahawks part ways with Chris Carson and retain Rashaad Penny?

Jan 14, 2022, 2:32 PM
Seahawks RB Rashaad Penny, Chris Carson...
Rashaad Penny of the Seattle Seahawks celebrates with Russell Wilson and Chris Carson after rushing for a fourth quarter touchdown against the Philadelphia Eagles. (Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
(Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

During a wide-ranging discussion regarding the play of the 2021 Seahawks and what’s next for the team, the conversation between Mike Salk and Michael Bumpus on 710 ESPN Seattle’s Mike Salk Show turned to the running backs.

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The Seahawks finished the year 11th in the NFL in rushing yards, but it took a bit for that aspect of the offense to get going.

Chris Carson, as has been the case since 2018, started the season as Seattle’s lead back and he rushed for 232 yards and three scores in the first four games of the year. But Carson was then shelved with a neck injury that ultimately ended his season and required season-ending surgery.

Carson re-signed with the Seahawks last offseason on a two-year deal and he has one more year on his contract. He has a cap hit of $6.425 million for 2022, and if cut, the Seahawks would have to eat $3 million in dead cap, per Spotrac.

After Carson went down, the Seahawks leaned on Alex Collins, who rushed for 411 yards in 11 games, six of which were starts.

But Collins, too, was hampered with injuries and ultimately, oft-injured 2018 first-round pick Rashaad Penny was thrust into the role of lead back.

Penny responded in a big way, rushing for 671 yards and six touchdowns over Seattle’s final five games. Penny finished the year with a career-high 749 rushing yards and a league-leading 6.3 yards per carry among qualified running backs.

Penny is now scheduled to hit unrestricted free agency after his fabulous finish to the year but with a lengthy injury history over his four NFL seasons.

Bumpus told Salk that when looking at the running backs, the Seahawks need to bring back both Carson and Penny for 2022. Salk had a different take.

“I’m all in on bringing back Penny,” Salk said. “I’m not all in on bringing back Carson.”

Carson, who has two 1,000-yard seasons to his name, also has a fairly lengthy history. He suffered a tough ankle injury that ended his rookie season early in 2017, he missed two games in 2018 due to a lingering hip injury, suffered a season-ending hip injury in Week 16 of 2019, missed four games in 2020 with a foot injury and then had the neck issue this season.

Salk said he likes what Penny did to close out the year and he’s a big fan of Penny’s rare blend of size and speed, which makes him a home run threat when he touches the football.

“If you’re going to commit anything to a player and risk something with a guy who’s had his injury history, can you afford to do that twice?” Salk asked. “(Even with) as much as I like Chris Carson (I don’t know) whether or not I have any more faith in him coming back from his various ailments. I might be looking at Rashaad Penny and another player.”

With Carson, Bumpus believes it all comes down to what the Seahawks’ medical department says.

“You have to listen to your medical staff and see what’s going on with Chris Carson and (see) if they say he’s good to go,” he said. “I think if Penny can continue to play the way he has and then Carson gets back to just half or three-quarters of what he was, you’ve got a nice little one-two combo back there. So depending on the medical report, if both those guys are healthy, I think you’re good.”

Listen to the full conversation from Wednesday morning at this link or in the player below.

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Could Seahawks part ways with Chris Carson and retain Rashaad Penny?