Running back Chris Carson, 27, is planning to retire from the NFL. After missing most of the 2021 season with a neck injury, Carson was unable to pass a physical examination during the offseason and was released by the Seahawks. In five seasons with Seattle, he never managed to play a full season.

For now, Carson will not officially announce his retirement in the hopes that his condition improves dramatically in the near future. The Seahawks’ decision to release Carson, however, leaves him without a solid path forward.

Since debuting in 2017, the running back’s potential was always evident on the field, but multiple injuries sidelined him at inopportune times. Following a 2018 season in which he started in 14 games and rushed for 1,151 yards and nine touchdowns, Carson continued to perform at a high level in 2019 until a hip injury ended his season in Week 16. He also missed more time in 2020 with a foot sprain.

Reports emerged soon after Carson’s most recent injury that he wasn’t recovering well, leading to season-ending neck surgery in November. Though he remained optimistic that he could return to action in 2022, a failed physical designation Tuesday led to his release. He will likely receive millions of dollars through injury protection clauses in the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement.

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Though his career will likely end prematurely, Carson’s journey to professional football remains one of perseverance. Without any offers to play Division I football out of high school, he accepted an offer to play at Butler Community College in El Dorado, Kansas. After two years at Butler, he transferred to Oklahoma State University and made the most of his playing time as a transfer player.

In the 2017 Draft, the Seahawks selected Carson with the 249th overall pick in the seventh round. His physical style of play undoubtedly appealed to Head Coach Pete Carroll, who was still looking for a replacement for star running back Marshawn Lynch. Carson thrived in a similar role.

In the NFL, Carson started in 48 games for the Seahawks in five seasons, rushing for 3,502 career yards and 24 touchdowns. Due in part to his limited availability, Carson was never a Pro Bowler but was nevertheless an integral part of the Seahawks organization, helping the team reach three straight postseasons.

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