Last season, Chris Carson finished with over 1,000 rushing yards for the first time, joining an elite cast of Seahawks running backs to accomplish the feat.
While the Seahawks have endured plenty of tough seasons over the years, they’ve always had plenty of star power in the backfield, as six different running backs have eclipsed the century mark. In fact, every back except Carson hit the milestone a minimum of three times, showcasing the consistent dominance of Seattle’s rushing attack.
With so many talented backs to choose from, which five ball carriers stand out as the best to tote the rock in Seattle? Here’s a look at my top five running backs who suited up for the Seahawks.
5. Ricky Watters
Seahawks Tenure: 1997-2000
Career Stats: 4,009 rushing yards, 22 touchdowns, 166 receptions
If Watters ever ends up in the Hall of Fame, his brief tenure in Seattle may be what put his already impressive resume over the top. Before signing with the Seahawks, the ex-Notre Dame star appeared in five straight Pro Bowls and earned All-Pro recognition three times to start his NFL career with the 49ers and Eagles, rushing for over 5,500 yards, catching 253 passes, and scoring 58 combined touchdowns during that span.
His success continued once he joined with the Seahawks as a free agent in 1997, as Watters surpassed 1,200 rushing yards in each of his first three seasons with the team, scored 21 touchdowns on the ground, and showed off his durability by carrying the football a remarkable 922 times. He also remained one of the best all-around backs in the sport into his 30s, hauling in 155 receptions for 1,373 yards and four touchdowns as a receiver.
4. Chris Warren
Seahawks Tenure: 1990-1997
Career Stats: 6,706 rushing yards, 44 touchdowns, 194 receptions
While he played on some of the worst teams in franchise history, Warren stood out as one of the few bright spots for the Seahawks during the mid-90s. After initially entering the league as a kick return specialist, he finally became Seattle’s lead back in 1992 and seized his opportunity, rushing for 1,017 yards and scoring three touchdowns in 16 starts.
Over the next three seasons, Warren rushed for nearly 4,000 yards, caught 91 passes, and scored 34 total touchdowns while playing in three straight Pro Bowls. In 1994, he set a franchise record by rushing for 1,545 yards and followed up with over 1,300 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns the next season. When he departed for Dallas in 1998, he ranked first in team history with 6,706 rushing yards.
3. Curt Warner
Seahawks Tenure: 1983-1989
Career Stats: 6,705 rushing yards, 55 touchdowns, 193 receptions
After being selected with the third overall pick in the 1983 NFL Draft, Warner promptly rushed for a league-best 1,449 yards and 13 touchdowns as a rookie and earned Second-Team All-Pro honors. Unfortunately, a torn ACL cost him almost the entire 1984 season and injuries ultimately shortened his career, which may have prevented him from being even higher on this list.
Still, after undergoing reconstructive knee surgery, Warner managed to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark three additional times and earned All-Pro honors twice for the Seahawks, including setting a new career-high with 1,481 rushing yards in 1986. Though his team rushing record eventually fell to Warren in 1997, he wrapped up his tenure in Seattle with 6,705 rushing yards and 55 touchdowns, which both rank third currently on the franchise’s all-time list. He became the fifth member of Seattle’s Ring of Honor in 1994.
2. Shaun Alexander
Seahawks Tenure: 2000-2007
Career Stats: 9,429 rushing yards, 100 touchdowns, 315 receptions
Due to a disappointing end to his playing career exacerbated by injuries, people often forget how ridiculously good the 225-pound Alexander was during his prime with the Seahawks. After sitting behind Watters as a rookie, he took over as Seattle’s lead back in 2001 and immediately became a superstar, rushing for 1,318 yards and 14 touchdowns.
Over the next four seasons, Alexander shattered record books, rushing for over 6,000 yards and scoring an absurd 73 rushing touchdowns. He earned league MVP honors in 2005 when he briefly established a new NFL single-season record with 27 rushing touchdowns and captured the rushing title with 1,880 rushing yards, eventually leading the Seahawks to their first Super Bowl. He produced nearly 10,000 rushing yards and scored 100 rushing touchdowns in eight seasons with the Seahawks and though he’s yet to be named a finalist, he was once again nominated for the Hall of Fame in 2019.
1. Marshawn Lynch
Seahawks Tenure: 2010-2015
Career Stats: 6,347 rushing yards, 57 touchdowns, 158 receptions
Statistically, Alexander holds the edge over Lynch in nearly every major category, but “Beast Mode” proved to be a transcendent talent at a position quickly losing value in the NFL and emerged as one of the most popular, yet sometimes controversial, stars of his era. As the driving force behind Seattle’s rise to prominence, his hard-nosed, physical running style wore down opponents and his teammates fed off of his highlight reel plays, including the famous “Beast Quake” run against the Saints in the 2010 NFC Wild Card round.
After being acquired from the Bills in a trade midway through the 2010 season, the ever-so-consistent Lynch rushed for at least 1,200 yards, scored at least 11 rushing touchdowns, and earned Pro Bowl honors in each of the next four seasons. As a prelude to the team’s eventual back-to-back Super Bowl appearances in 2013 and 2014, he rushed for a career-best 1,590 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2012 and earned First-Team All-Pro recognition. Since briefly hanging up his cleats after the 2015 season, his 6,347 total rushing yards ranked fourth best in Seahawks history and remains a distant second behind Alexander for rushing touchdowns.