Seattle Seahawks running back Chris Carson has decided to retire ahead of training camp, a person with knowledge of the situation confirmed to Pro Football Network on Tuesday. The talented tailback was forced to make the decision due to a significant neck injury.
Now, the Seahawks will open up camp with a less crowded backfield. Overall, the offense isn’t particularly charming on paper, especially in the passing game, so the rushing attack is likely to see a lot of action this year.
But the question now remains: Who will take on the bulk of the carries in the backfield with Carson headed out of town?
Chris Carson retires: Who will lead the Seahawks backfield in 2022?
With Carson out of the mix, the Seahawks backfield looks like this: Rashaad Penny, DeeJay Dallas, Travis Homer, Josh Johnson, Darwin Thompson, and second-round pick Kenneth Walker III.
While Penny is the elder statesman of the crew, Walker is the intriguing newcomer. At the running back position, NFL experience is probably less valuable than at any other position. Penny, a 2018 first-round pick, has been underwhelming throughout his career, even being upstaged by Carson, a former undrafted player, who surged during the same timeframe as his highly touted teammate.
Walker is coming off a special season with the Michigan State Spartans. He produced 1,636 rushing yards and 18 rushing touchdowns during his one-year tenure with the program. The 5-foot-9, 211-pound tailback was dominant last year, and with only three college seasons under his belt, should be fresh to carry the load, with Penny, Homer, and Dallas backing him up in a rotation.
Penny has durability concerns, as he has never played more than 14 games in a season. Over the past three seasons, he’s combined for just 23 games of work. With Walker in front of him, Seattle can monitor and manage Penny’s usage to prolong his availability.
With Drew Lock or Geno Smith at quarterback, the Seahawks are going to need to lean heavily on the running game, and Walker should be able to shoulder the burden of a top back as a rookie. Penny, Homer, and Dallas should be able to compete behind the young standout for the occasional touch, especially in the passing game, where Walker didn’t completely stand out as a college prospect.