Should Seahawks buck the ‘don’t pay running backs’ trend with Carson?

Apr 4, 2020, 1:04 PM | Updated: 1:06 pm

Seahawks RB Chris Carson...

Most running backs aren't getting paid. Does that change with Seahawks RB Chris Carson? (Getty)


The Seahawks are known for wanting to run the ball on offense, and over the last two seasons, they’ve been able to do that very well with Chris Carson, who will be entering his fourth NFL season in 2020.

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Carson has had back to back 1,00o-yard seasons for the Seahawks and his physical running style is exactly what head coach Pete Carroll looks for in his running backs.

But the Seahawks will have a decision to make soon about Carson, as he is entering the final year of his contract. There is a lot of concern over paying running backs big contracts as they tend to fall off harder than almost any position due to the amount of hits that they take throughout their careers, which could hurt Carson’s chances of sticking with Seattle.

Teams don’t want to get burned, such as how the L.A. Rams did when they had to release former All Pro running back Todd Gurley, just two years after giving him a wealthy extension, due to injuries and a narrow salary cap.

Carson has his own share of injury concerns, as he’s never played all 16 games in a season and ended his rookie season in 2017 and his 2019 season on injured reserve with ankle and hip injuries, respectively. He also had seven fumbles in 2019.

Carson is just 25 years old and fits the mold of a Seahawks running back, but do any of the hosts of 710 ESPN Seattle’s Bob, Dave and Moore think Seattle should go against the trend of not paying running backs by extending Carson’s contract?

“I think the worst thing that’s happened with the whole running back market is what happened with Gurley because he was the guy that finally got that big contract and then all of a sudden there’s this big question with his knee,” Dave Wyman said. “I don’t know about extending (Carson).”

The combination of serious injuries and fumbling cause Jim Moore to have serious reservations about dishing out a multi-year deal to Carson. He’s also surprised that Seattle hasn’t added another running back this offseason.

“You’ve got Rashaad Penny, you’ve got Travis Homer. I’m surprised they haven’t made a move in free agency to get a running back because I’m sure they’re going to get one in the draft, but I was kind of hoping maybe they’d get a veteran in free agency, too, and maybe they still will,” Moore said. “It’s just a tough (question) with running backs and it’s especially hard if you’re a team like Seattle that likes to have a run-first type of offense and you like to have a runner like Chris Carson who has a violent style, but it takes a toll.”

Running backs are typically seen as peaking in their first four to five seasons in the NFL. That makes it hard to justify paying them big money as a typical NFL rookie contract is four seasons long. That could be especially bad for Carson as he was a seventh-round pick in 2017 and made just over $600,000 last season. In 2020, he’s set to make over $2 million, by far the most of his career so far.

“You can’t sit there if you’re (Seahawks general manager) John Schneider and say to yourself ‘I’m going to go ahead and give this guy a contract extension’ because of the fumble concerns and the injury concerns,” Moore said. “You’ve got to see if if he’s going to play it out and then even when the (2020) season is over, I don’t think Carson is going to be in that great of a position.”

Bob Stelton said Gurley being cut so soon into his deal will loom large over most backs looking for their next payday.

“(Gurley) was a guy that was thought of if he wasn’t the best back in the league, he was in that conversation,” Stelton said. “Now he signed a one-year sort of ‘prove-it deal’ or ‘show us you can be out here and be healthy’ deal with the Falcons for $6 million … the history of running backs and longevity is not great … that position does not lend itself to a long, productive career and I get the hesitation.”

Wyman said it’s unfair that Carson is unlikely to get a payday that he’s earned, especially because of what he means to the Seahawks when he plays.

“Nobody’s going to pay him and think about how important is that guy to this team?” Wyman said. “He’s as important as anybody we’ve talked about this year, getting them to the playoffs and again, I think if they had him in the playoffs, which they didn’t … I think they beat Green Bay.”

You can listen to the full conversation at this link or in the player below at the 24:32 mark.

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Should Seahawks buck the ‘don’t pay running backs’ trend with Carson?