Coming off a career year, could Chris Carson be the first Seattle Seahawks tailback to lead the league in rushing since Shaun Alexander in 2005? Here are Carson’s odds at Mybookie to lead the NFL in rushing yards in the 2020 regular season as well as his over/under yardage total.
Not too often that seventh-round picks even make an NFL roster, but Carson was a seventh-round selection by Seattle in the 2017 draft out of Oklahoma State. Carson played two seasons for Butler Community College in El Dorado, Kansas, east of Wichita, then transferred to Oklahoma State in 2015.
Carson didn’t get many carries in 2017 as a rookie for Seattle but in 2018 Carson finished fifth in the NFL in rushing yards (1,151) and tied for seventh in the NFL with nine rushing touchdowns. Carson was the first Seahawks running back to rush for over 1,000 yards since Marshawn Lynch in 2014. He was also one of four backs (Saquon Barkley, Ezekiel Elliott, Todd Gurley) with at least six 100-yard games during the season.
Last year, Carson suffered a fractured hip in Week 16 that ended his season but he still finished with 1,230 rushing yards and seven rushing touchdowns to go along with 37 receptions for 266 receiving yards and two receiving touchdowns. Carson has 12 100-yard games since 2018 (2nd NFL, Elliott). He also became the sixth Seattle running back to produce back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons in franchise history and first since Lynch (2011-14).
Carson was among the highest graded running backs against stacked boxes last year, according to Pro Football Focus, earning a 74.4 rushing grade. Carson’s 31 broken tackles across the regular season and postseason were fewer than only (Derrick) Henry, and his forced missed tackle rate of 30% was higher than any other runner with at least 50 carries against stacked boxes. Carson’s 30% forced missed tackle rate beat out Raheem Mostert of the 49ers, Josh Jacobs of the Raiders and Todd Gurley of the Rams.
Carson didn’t need offseason surgery on that hip and should be ready for Week 1. The Seahawks have been projecting optimism on Carson’s status for months, though they did use a fourth-round pick on Miami tailback DeeJay Dallas. In addition, the team also signed veteran Carlos Hyde and used a first-round pick two years ago on tailback Rashaad Penny.
Hyde quietly posted over 1,000 rushing yards last season, so he can still be productive when given enough volume. Penny is still aiming to re-join this offense sometime in September after going down with a brutal torn ACL in Week 14.
“Personally, I don’t think there’s an open competition for the starting role,” Hyde told reporters when he signed. “I think everybody knows who the starting running back is for Seattle. And that’s (Chris) Carson. I knew that before I even signed in Seattle that he was the guy.”
Seahawks offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer said he feels “really good about both [Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny] coming back” from injuries.
Heading into the final year of his rookie contract, Carson has officially changed agencies. Previously a client of Dream Point Sports during his first three NFL seasons, Carson will now be represented by Octagon. The switch comes at a time when Carson is eligible to negotiate a contract extension with Seattle. Finishing in the top five in the NFL in rushing yards each of the past two seasons, Carson will be seeking a lucrative pay raise on a new contract. He will earn a base salary of $2.133 million in 2020.
Carson is a uniquely talented player who has made Seattle’s offense better. His production has far exceeded the cost – and expectations – of his rookie contract, and he deserves a more lucrative deal. Seattle just may not be ready to give one with all those other tailbacks on the roster and Carson off a serious injury. What’s also working against Carson, and his value in the Seahawks’ offense, is the many cautionary tales of big-money running backs. The failures have reinforced the notion of backs having small shelf lives.
Seattle is a 1-point favorite for Week 1 in Atlanta.