The neck injury that torpedoed the 2021 season for Seattle Seahawks running back Chris Carson will end his career.
NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Tuesday that Carson has decided to retire due to the injury, per a source informed of the situation.
The decision comes after the running back failed his physical, Rapoport added. The Seahawks released Carson with a failed physical designation later Tuesday, which allows the RB to receive 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," head coach Pete Carroll said in a statement 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."
The 27-year-old played in just four games last season before being sidelined by the injury.
In June, Carson was optimistic he'd be able to return at some point this season.
"Oh, we still going right now," Carson said at the time. "I see myself playing until I feel like stopping. My mindset is never to give up. So, I'm staying positive like I said, and continue to fight and get back onto the field."
Ultimately, the neck injury will not allow Carson to get back on the field. Given the physical nature of football and the seriousness of the injury, he becomes the latest player to see his career prematurely ended by a neck issue.
"It's a big disappointment," Seahawks general manager John Schneider said. "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."
In five seasons with the Seahawks after being selected in the seventh round of the 2017 draft out of Oklahoma State, Carson was one of the most underrated, hard-nosed backs in the NFL. He ran with a purpose, owning the speed to get the edge and and ability to drag tacklers for extra yards on every run.
Carson finishes his career with 3,502 yards on 796 carries and 24 TDs, including back-to-back 1,100-plus rushing campaigns in 2018 and 2019.
With Carson retired, the Seahawks will plow forward with Rashaad Penny and rookie running back Kenneth Walker III. Seattle's selection of Walker in the second round underscored the uncertain nature of Carson's future. Now that the veteran is retiring, Walker and Penny will battle for reps in the ground-first offense Pete Carroll favors.