Only a week ago it looked like the long-rumored Marshawn Lynch-Oakland Raiders agreement, and a required transaction between the Seattle Seahawks and both sides to make it happen, was so close to being completed that it was reported by some analysts as news. Lynch took to social media to call shenanigans on that dispatch, but most familiar with the situation considered the development imminent.
However, Vic Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle today suggested that the possibility of a compact could come undone if not concluded sometime in the next week. The NFL draft starts Thursday, and Oakland general manager Reggie McKenzie confirmed that the Raiders would aim to fill their empty backfield through the draft instead of signing the former Seattle and Buffalo Bills veteran if they don’t strike a deal before then. “At some point, you would like to know,” McKenzie said, per Tafur. “Prior to the draft is that point.”
Although McKenzie added, “I’m not going to say never,” Tafur also posted on Twitter that Oakland wants Lynch to accept far less money than Beast Mode hopes to collect in a renegotiated arrangement. Should he come out of retirement, Lynch is scheduled to earn $7 million in base salary on his old Seahawks extension, with a $9 million cap hit. Whether they trade for Lynch or force Seattle to release his contract, the Raiders are apparently not willing to pay more than $2-3 million for the 31-year-old runner. Lynch is reportedly looking for more like $4-5 million.
Marshawn Lynch's Seattle deal would pay him $9 mi in 2017. Raiders want to pay him 1/3 that while Lynch is balking at taking less than half.— Vic Tafur (@VicTafur) April 21, 2017
Depending how an agreement is structured, that would mean Lynch accepting less money than, say, the Seahawks are going to pay Eddie Lacy in 2017 (reportedly $5.5 million total, with $2.8 million guaranteed). Lynch has multiple revenue streams outside football, with his own Beast Mode brand and apparel stores, film productions, television appearances and other endorsements, so money probably isn’t the main object (Shawn paid hundreds of thousands in fines during his career, so he’s used to giving money back). But for a player who retired as the second-best paid tailback in the NFL, it would be a huge drop in financial status and perceived worth for Lynch—who has made large profits by controlling demand for his skills and even sound bytes.
According to Spotrac, a contract worth around $5 million just in 2017 would make Lynch the sixth-highest paid back, or tied for 10th in terms of APY (equivalent to departed Oakland runner Latavius Murray’s deal with the Minnesota Vikings). Taking less than $3 million would drop him down to 19th or 25th respectively, between the likes of Rex Burkhead and Danny Woodhead. Marshawn may be an old head, but he’s got more value, especially for the civic-relations-desperate Raiders, than those -heads.
So it may turn out that the denouement to Lynch’s career remains the same as it was when he was playing hide and seek with Seattle in the playoffs after 2015, a lot of sound and fury signifying nothing—expect of course contributing again to Beast Mode’s profile in the contemporary consciousness. Perhaps Lynch works something out with Oakland in the next week, but even if he does will anybody be convinced that he shows up to training camp or the start of the season? As always with this ongoing saga, anything is possible.
But remember, Marshawn thrives on contact. Even if the NFL or even the public tries to run away from him, he’ll probably come right after us. Just, you know, for the intimacy of contact. And Skittles.