Running back Chris Carson is re-signing with the Seattle Seahawks on a three-year, $24.625 million deal that voids to two years at $10.425 million, his agents at Octagon Football told ESPN's Adam Schefter and Jeremy Fowler on Friday.
Casey Muir, who co-represents Carson along with Murphy McGuire, told Fowler that the first year of the contract includes $5.5 million guaranteed with an opportunity to earn as much as $6.9 million with incentives.
The voiding third year in Carson's deal allows the Seahawks to spread out his signing bonus over three seasons for salary-cap purposes instead of two. The Seahawks have not done deals with voidable years under general manager John Schneider and contract negotiator Matt Thomas, but that mechanism gave them a workaround to their tight cap situation.
OverTheCap.com listed the Seahawks with less than $500,000 in cap space before Carson's deal was reported. It's likely that Seattle will have to free up room with moves such as restructures, extensions or possibly a salary-shedding trade.
Carson, 26, is coming off a season in which he totaled 968 yards from scrimmage and nine touchdowns, but an early career trend continued as he missed four games with a foot injury.
Carson has been one of the league's most productive running backs when healthy, but he has missed 19 of a possible 64 regular-season games since entering the league as a seventh-round draft pick out of Oklahoma State in 2017.
Quarterback Russell Wilson worked hard in recent days to try to convince Carson to re-sign, sources told ESPN.
Re-signing Carson checks off a major item for the Seahawks. Their backfield returns 2018 first-round pick Rashaad Penny as well as DeeJay Dallas, Travis Homer and veteran Alex Collins. But Penny has played a complementary role to Carson in each of his three NFL seasons and missed most of 2020 while recovering from knee surgery. Homer and Dallas are change-of-pace backs, and Collins will be competing for a roster spot with no guaranteed money in his minimum-salary contract.
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll has long had a well-known fondness of Carson and his bruising running style. Carroll said after last season that a better running game would have helped the Seahawks combat the issues in their passing game that contributed to their offensive decline late in the year.
That made it clear that Carroll would continue to make Seattle's running game a strong priority. But it was hardly a given that Carson would return as he headed into free agency as arguably the top running back behind Green Bay's Aaron Jones. Carson and several other running backs found a weak market for the position, which worked in Seattle's favor.
The Seahawks declined to extend Carson or cornerback Shaquill Griffin last offseason even though each was coming off a strong 2019. Griffin made the Pro Bowl as an alternate and Carson topped 1,100 yards rushing for the second year in a row. But the Seahawks went all-in on 2020. That meant adding other players with cash and cap space they would have had to set aside to extend Carson and Griffin, having each play out the final year of their inexpensive rookie deals and hoping they could re-sign them in 2021.
Griffin signed a three-year deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Seattle's other departures in free agency have been running back Carlos Hyde (Jaguars), wide receivers David Moore (Panthers) and Phillip Dorsett (Jaguars) and tight end Jacob Hollister.
The Seahawks have signed tight end Gerald Everett and cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon and acquired guard Gabe Jackson in a trade with the Las Vegas Raiders. In addition to Carson, they've re-signed defensive tackle Poona Ford (a restricted free agent), center Ethan Pocic and special-teams standout Nick Bellore.