Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said Tuesday he isn't sure if either safety Kam Chancellor or defensive end Cliff Avril will play football again after each suffered neck injuries in the 2017 season.
"Cliff and Kam are going to have a hard time playing football again," he said, per Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times, adding that it would be each player's decision in regard to a potential return.
It isn't the first time that Carroll has suggested Chancellor faces a major decision about his football future.
"The future is really again up to Kam," he said in late November during an interview on 710 ESPN Seattle (h/t Brady Henderson of ESPN.com). "He does what he wants to do with that. He'll tell you what he wants to tell you about it."
Nonetheless, Carroll's candor Tuesday didn't go unnoticed:
Chancellor missed the rest of Seattle's season after suffering a nerve injury in his neck during a Nov. 9 win over the Arizona Cardinals. Avril, meanwhile, missed the rest of the season after suffering his neck injury in Week 4. He had a disc-related surgery in late November.
Gregg Bell of the News Tribune described Avril's scary injury:
"On Oct. 1 Avril got kicked under the jaw by Indianapolis' Jacoby Brissett while the Colts quarterback tried to scramble away from Avril's diving attempt at a tackle. The 10-year veteran temporarily lost feeling in his arms and hands; he could be seen vigorously shaking them on the field immediately after the hit to try to regain feeling in them."
Were both Chancellor and Avril to retire, it may signal the end of an era for Seattle's defense. The 2017 season saw a number of key players on that side of the ball suffer season-ending injuries, including cornerback Richard Sherman (Achilles), and both Chancellor and Avril have been key figures for the team in recent years.
Sam Monson of Pro Football Focus listed Chancellor as the 34th-best player in football in the 2016 season, for instance.
Chancellor was also the enforcer of Seattle's famed Legion of Boom secondary that included Sherman and free safety Earl Thomas. He's long been one of Seattle's most important defensive leaders and most productive players, and the Seahawks would have a different defensive identity without his presence.