RENTON — The Seattle Seahawks released running back Chris Carson with a failed physical designation on Tuesday, potentially signaling an end to his career because of a neck injury.
Carson’s future was in doubt the entire offseason after he was injured in Week 4 last year and eventually underwent neck surgery. Seattle coach Pete Carroll cautioned that Carson may not be able to return and Tuesday’s move finalized the situation.
Tuesday was reporting day for the Seahawks, with their first on-field practice scheduled for Wednesday.
The NFL Network reported that Carson “won’t make a retirement statement, just in case his neck dramatically improves” but the expectation is he will not be able to play again. The NFL Network reported that designation will allow Carson to receive “several million” in injury protection benefits.
“Ever since the first time I saw Chris on film, I loved his style, and I was thrilled when we were able to get him when we did,” Carroll told the Seahawks website on Tuesday. “To see him grow and become such an impacting part of our program with such a great style and all of that, it was a thrill to watch. We’ll miss him and everything he brought to our program.”
Carson was a seventh-round pick of the Seahawks in 2017 that quickly developed into one of Carroll’s favorite players. Carson’s reckless, punishing running style was notably similar to former Seattle star Marshawn Lynch and yielded great success while also taking a physical toll.
Carson played more than 12 games only twice in his five seasons. Carson’s best season was 2019 when he rushed for 1,230 yards and seven touchdowns in 15 games.
During minicamp in June, Carroll said Carson had yet to regain complete range of motion in his neck following the surgery. Seattle was prepared for the chance Carson wouldn’t be able to return after drafting running back Ken Walker III and re-signing Rashaad Penny in the offseason.
“He’s been an incredible pro, a guy who brings an amazing energy about him. His running style is what we’ve always wanted here in Seattle. He’s the type of runner that the whole team feeds off of. The type of player defensive players get off the bench to watch him run — they can feel his energy. He’s the type of runner whose style affects the whole team, not just the offense,” Seattle general manager John Schneider said. “It’s a big disappointment. We took it as long as we possibly could with him, he saw a number of specialists, but unfortunately he wasn’t able to pass our physical.”
Carson’s situation mirrored two previous Seahawks standouts that had their careers cut short because of neck injuries. Both defensive end Cliff Avril and safety Kam Chancellor suffered neck injuries in the 2017 season that caused both to step away from the game.
Seattle also released reserve linebacker Ben Burr-Kirven with a failed physical designation. Burr-Kirven would revert to injured reserve for Seattle if he clears waivers. The Seahawks also placed four player on the physically unable to perform list: CB Tre Brown, LB Jon Rhattigan, OL Liam Ryan and LB Tyreke Smith.
Brown and Rhattigan are still recovering from knee injuries suffered last season.