Would Chris Carson Fit Well in Buffalo?
By: Cody Molla (Twitter: @Cmolla1)
Chris Carson, a former seventh-round pick in 2017, has reached the end of his rookie deal and is now a free agent. The young running back struggled with injuries in his 2020 season limiting him to 681 yards and five touchdowns over 12 games. However, in 2018 and 2019, Carson combined for over 2300 yards and 16 touchdowns. He established himself as an early down workhorse and a bruiser who could grind the tough yards and move the chains.
The 2020 season for the Seahawks was cut short with a playoff loss to division rival Los Angeles Rams. The whole offseason and early part of the season was story lined with letting Russell Wilson cook and having the ball in his hands more. This was different from the past Seahawks offensive schemes which were run dominated. The results weren’t as they hoped and the offense faltered down the stretch leading to offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer being fired and Carroll wanting a rush attack going into 2021.
It would seem the Seahawks want Carson to lead that rushing attack after contributing over the years and showing his ability to be a better than average running back thus far in his career. However, this morning it was reported by Michael-Shawn Dugar of The Athletic it’s unlikely a deal is to be done between the two.
Since his rookie season, Carson has missed 19 games. The injury concern and price are the main concerns for the Seahawks moving forward with Carson. Despite the limited 2020 season, Carson finished with a career high in yards per carry at 4.8, as well as career highs in the receiving game. He tied his career high in catches while setting new highs in yards and touchdowns.
Carson is an intriguing running back option. There are teams that could definitely use his services. He could be signed for a value given the injury history but when healthy the hard-nosed runner brings an edge to the run game and could boost an offense.
The Buffalo Bills had one of the most explosive offenses in the NFL in 2020. The addition of Diggs expanded the passing game and gave them a go to option when needed. Despite all the success in the passing game the run game struggled. Running back was a weak spot in the offense for the Bills this year.
The duo of Devin Singletary and rookie Zach Moss contributed to over 1100 rush yards and six touchdowns. The Bills as a team finished with over 1700 rush yards which is in the bottom half of the NFL. Josh Allen contributed over 400 yards to that total as well. Although Josh Allen’s athleticism is a big part of his game limiting his rush attempts can limit hits and wear and tear on him. This can lengthen his career and keep him much healthier as his career goes on.
The Bills ran the ball 411 times out of their 1034 plays. Nearly a quarter, 102, of those, were rushes by Josh Allen. Adding Carson to the backfield will help all players involved. Carsons’ touches can be limited to keep him healthy along with Allen.
Carsons’ ability in the passing game would translate well to a pass heavy team in 2020. The ability to break tackles and grind yards would be an added dimension to an already explosive offense. The running back position might be the key to getting the Bills into the super bowl in the near future.
The Arizona Cardinals are a team looking to move forward with a very promising young quarterback. However, they have a long list of free agents with $13.5 million in cap space according to Over the Cap.
One of the main free agents on their roster is running back Kenyan Drake. Drake has been the starter for the past season and a half after being acquired from the Miami Dolphins. The Cardinals were among the league’s best in total rush yards. The trio of Drake, Edmonds, and Kyler Murray contributed heavily to the 2237 yards gained on the ground.
Drake totaled 955 yards and 10 touchdowns on 239 carries last year. He also added 25 touches in the receiving game. If Drake is not resigned the Cardinals will have lots of touches available in the running back spot and Chris Carson can fill that role.
Another reason to sign Carson is Chase Edmonds is a free agent in 2022. If Drake is lost in free agency this year and they rely on a rookie or lower tier free agent with Edmonds at risk of leaving in 2022 the running back room needs a presence. Carson can be signed for a reasonable multiyear deal to provide a veteran running back to the offense.
Kliff Kingsbury has developed explosive run schemes in his NFL coaching career. His offenses have been near the top in yards per carry each season and the addition of a powerful tough runner can do well in his scheme. The up-tempo offense with the dual threat at quarterback can open up lanes and gash tired defenses at any moment. Chris Carson can fit this scheme and his improvements in the passing game can continue within this Cardinals scheme.
The Miami Dolphins were a breakout team in 2020. Nearly making the playoffs with a 10-6 record the young up and coming team maybe a free agent destination for some players.
Heading into last year the Dolphins traded for Brieda and acquired Jordan Howard. Both were used sparingly throughout the season and Howard was even released mid season. The speedy Brieda only started one game and took a back seat to Gaskin and Ahmed throughout the season.
Although the young duo of Washington Husky running backs was productive the running game was lacking that extra gear. The Dolphins have been linked to making a free agent splash at running back for a few months now. Most people point to Aaron Jones. Jones is regarded as the best running back in the free agent class however would be the most expensive.
The Dolphins front office has shown to be smart in their spending recently. Even at a prime position like running back, we can look at Griers transactions last year with minimal spending to help the running back position.
Spending on Carson would bring a top running back to Miami and would be cheaper than the asking price for Aaron Jones. Carson combined with Gaskin and Ahmed would be an upgrade and a well-rounded unit.
With a proper offseason and actual reps with the team, Tua will be improved. A strong runner in Carson will bring an edge that was missing last year in the run game. The young offensive line will be improved as well.
Saving money from Jones to Carson while not losing much in the talent department is a move that will benefit the team in other areas while acquiring a player to get the Dolphins into the playoffs in 2021.
New York Jets- A position of need for the Jets. Carson will save money to help restructure the rest of the team while adding a great player to the offense.
Pittsburgh Steelers- James Conner is a free agent. Carson is a hardnosed downhill runner that fits the offense. The Steelers had zero run game last year and Carson can bring balance to the attack.