Marshawn Lynch‘s future in Seattle is up in the air after an injury-plagued 2015 season, with Lynch owed a sizable salary and Thomas Rawls having emerged as a viable alternative. Appearing today on 710 ESPN Seattle, Seahawks general manager John Schneider was asked about Lynch’s future and said that he’s under the impression the veteran back is “leaning towards retirement” (Twitter links via Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times).
If Lynch is seriously considering retirement, it certainly wouldn’t be the first time we’ve heard that. A quick glance through PFR’s archives on the Seahawks running back turns up at least two separate stories from 2014 that explore the possibility of retirement. Lynch was also believed to be mulling retiring before signing a new deal with the team last March.
Of course, there are some key differences between Lynch’s situation now and then. During his first four years in Seattle, all Pro Bowl seasons, Lynch never ran for less than 1,200 yards or 11 touchdowns. In 2015, he was limited to 417 yards and three TDs in his seven games, and was barely used in Seattle’s playoff loss last weekend, as the team quickly fell behind 31-0.
Lynch is currently set to earn a base salary of $9MM in 2016, with an overall cap hit of $11.5MM. That’s a significant price to pay for a running back who turns 30 this spring, and who is coming off health issues. Rawls, as an undrafted rookie, averaged an eye-popping 5.6 yards per carry this season, en route to a team-leading 830 rushing yards, so if Seattle decides to move on from Lynch – or vice versa – the team will have a player capable of stepping into the starting role.
As Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk observes (via Twitter), Lynch would owe the Seahawks $5MM in signing bonus money if he retires this offseason, so it may be in his best interest to force the club to cut him instead. Releasing Lynch would create at least $6.5MM in cap savings for Seattle, or even more than that if the team were to designate him as a post-June 1.
If past contract negotiations are any indication, Lynch is unlikely to make a quick decision, and the Seahawks won’t be under any real pressure to make a call on the running back until March, so I expect it’ll be some time before we get any resolution one way or the other on this situation.
While Lynch’s future with the Seahawks is up in the air, Schneider said today that tight end Jimmy Graham will definitely be back with the team next season, per Condotta.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.