Brooks, the NFL's third-leading tackler, was hurt in the second quarter of the Seahawks' 23-6 win over the New York Jets on Sunday when his right leg planted awkwardly while he made a spinning tackle of tight end C.J. Uzomah on the sideline. Brooks immediately grabbed his right knee. He was helped off the field and into the medical tent, carted into the locker room and quickly ruled out for the remainder of the game.
Carroll called it a "legit" injury, his way of describing an injury as significant. He later told reporters at his Monday afternoon news conference that Brooks will undergo ACL surgery but needs to wait for swelling to subside first.
"That's a shame, man," he said. "What a great, great player and a great teammate."
The Seahawks drafted Brooks 27th overall in 2020 and played him part-time as a rookie. He became a full-time starter last year and finished second in the NFL with 184 tackles, topping the single-season franchise record that Bobby Wagner had set earlier in the year. The Seahawks cut Wagner this past offseason and made Brooks their new middle linebacker, which has meant him playing virtually every snap and relaying the defensive playcalls in the huddle. His 161 tackles are third in the NFL behind Foyesade Oluokun's 171 and Nick Bolton's 165.
Brooks had a pressure of Jets quarterback Mike White on Sunday, forcing him into an errant throw that resulted in the first of his two interceptions. He also finishes the season with a sack, a forced fumble and five passes defensed.
Brooks' injury deals a blow to a Seahawks team that's making a late push for a playoff spot. Seattle would claim the NFC's final wild-card berth with a win at home over the Los Angeles Rams in Week 18 and a Detroit Lions win or tie versus the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field.
Cody Barton, the other starting inside linebacker in Seattle's 3-4 defensive front, will slide into Brooks' role. Tanner Muse, who has primarily played on special teams and hasn't started a game since entering the NFL in 2020, took over Barton's duties against the Jets, finishing with two tackles and a pass defended.
"Cody becomes the Mike," Carroll said. "He's been the backup Mike the whole time, which isn't that big of a deal. He's a very good playcaller, so he'll handle those duties well. Tanner Muse played well yesterday. Jonny Rhattigan and Alexander [Johnson], we want to see all these guys contribute to help us out. Guys have got to step up, and that's what they'll do."
Brooks' rookie deal runs through 2023, but the Seahawks could keep him under contract through 2024 by exercising his fifth-year option before the May 1 deadline. Overthecap.com projects that option to cost around $11 million.
Wide receiver Tyler Lockett, meanwhile, suffered what Carroll called a lower leg contusion Sunday. Lockett, playing 13 days after surgery to repair a broken bone in one of his hands, left the game late in the first half and didn't return until the start of the fourth quarter.
"He's better today," Carroll told reporters Monday. "The report is that his leg feels a little better today. It got banged. It's not a serious injury, but it bothered him immediately afterward. He recovered enough to get back in, and then I went up to him and said, 'We're going to win this game. We've got a big game coming up. You're out.' He was chomping to get back in."
In addition, Phil Haynes, who has been regularly sharing time at right guard with starter Gabe Jackson, has a high ankle sprain. Safety Ryan Neal (knee), right tackle Abe Lucas (knee) and backup running back Travis Homer (ankle) all have a chance to return this week from the injuries that kept them out against the Jets.