Pete Carroll hopeful Seattle Seahawks, DK Metcalf can reach deal, unsure of Chris Carson's future

RENTON, Wash. -- Pete Carroll said Thursday that the Seattle Seahawks remain optimistic about getting a deal done with receiver DK Metcalf but still unsure whether running back Chris Carson will return from neck surgery.

The two offensive standouts did not attend this week's minicamp for different reasons. Carson had an excused absence as he's yet to be medically cleared while Metcalf, who is in line for a massive extension, stayed away in a somewhat surprising decision. The star receiver had drawn praise from Carroll for taking part in the voluntary portion of the team's offseason workout program amid his unsettled contract situation and his recovery from foot surgery.

Speaking Thursday after the final practice of Seattle's three-day mandatory minicamp, Carroll said he was hoping Metcalf would be there and called it unfortunate that he wasn't.

"A decision that he had to make," Carroll said. "We missed him. He had done a nice job of contributing, being a part of everything we had done and then he just is not here. So I can't say much about for what he hasn't done here, but we'd love to have him with us."

The Seahawks deemed Metcalf's absence from minicamp unexcused, which means he's subject to fines of more than $93,000 for missing all three days. Carroll was asked if the team plans to impose those fines but declined to answer, citing his policy on not publicly discussing such matters.

Metcalf, 24, is entering the final year of his rookie contract after recording a combined 216 catches for 3,170 yards and 29 touchdowns over his first three seasons. He has not missed a game since the Seahawks drafted him with the final pick of the second round in 2019. His performance, plus the skyrocketing market for wide receivers, has put Metcalf in line for a deal that could average more than $25 million per year.

Carroll said there have been "some" contract talks with Metcalf's side. The Seahawks typically don't finalize big-budget extensions for under-contract players until later in the summer.

"These are crucial weeks to get something done and we'll see what happens and hope that we can work something out," Carroll said. "[We've] really intend to get that done."

When asked if he's any less optimistic about getting a deal done with Metcalf than before his minicamp no-show, Carroll noted that the Seahawks have a strong track record of extending players they want to keep long term since he and general manager John Schneider arrived in 2010.

"I'm not less optimistic, no," Carroll said. "We've been through this for years. It's a challenging time. We've had so many high-profile guys that have gone through this process, and how's that worked out for us? We've figured it out in time. John is on it. He's as experienced as you can get at handling this stuff and DK's got great representation and DK is a heck of a kid. But there's no way of avoiding the first time of this, the first time of what it feels like and the experience of it and all of that ... He's a remarkable person. He's a wonderful player. He has so much to offer the world and all, I just don't want him to miss this opportunity to where we can't figure it out. So we'll do everything we can."

Carson, 27, played in only four games last season because of a neck injury that required what Carroll described as fusion surgery in December. He still does not have a full range of motion, per Carroll, and was not medically cleared after a recent evaluation.

Carroll said there's a "big assessment to be done" when doctors meet with Carson again in a couple weeks, adding: "They'll reconvene and see where he is and let us know."

"We visited -- it was about 10 days ago now -- here and had a real good chance to hang out with him and feel him," Carroll said. "He's concerned because he wants to play and he loves the game and he's a worker, he wants to work and push and all that, and there's somethings that he was still a little but restrained to do so he wasn't quite ready to do everything at that time.

"It's just hard on him. Our guys love this game that they grow up playing and when they sense that there may be an end to it, it's hard. It's difficult and it's real. We're going to love him through it and help him as much as possible if that's the case, like we do with everybody when it comes to the end of it. It's inevitable. It's coming. But it's always too soon. We're trying to fight that off and he knows that. He's battling. He's doing everything he can and he wants to compete all the way until the last word, and so he's going for it."

Carson began all five of his NFL seasons as Seattle's starter. He topped 1,100 yards in 2018 (14 games) and 2019 (15 games), the two healthiest seasons of what has otherwise been an injury-marred career. He's under contract through 2022 after testing free agency last offseason and returning to Seattle on a two-year, $10.425 million deal that includes $5.5 million guaranteed.

The Seahawks re-signed Rashaad Penny in March and drafted Ken Walker III in the second round, reinforcing their backfield with Carson's football future up in the air.

"He's been one of my favorite Seahawks ever," Carroll said. "Loved what he stood for and what he brought and we'd love to have him back again. He's a very special player and a very special competitor on your team and person. So we'll keep our fingers crossed."