As of Friday morning, Marshawn Lynch is still retired. He has not applied for reinstatement and as of now, a number of important hurdles still stand between him and a return to the NFL. What have we learned this week about the former Seattle Seahawks’ great?
On Thursday, Lynch’s merchandise page on his Beast Mode website started to feature “silver and black” gear, as well as a “Beast Mode: Oakland” shirt for the first time. It’s a sign, to many, that Lynch is “gearing up” for his return to the league, specifically with the only team he’ll supposedly play for: the Oakland Raiders. Lynch visited with Raiders officials this week and supposedly the organization is just waiting on an “OK” from head coach Jack Del Rio. If Oakland does decide to work on adding Lynch to the roster for next season, there’s not expected to be much conflict between Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie and Seahawks general manager John Schneider, as the two worked together for the Green Bay Packers for quite some time.
However, that does not mean that Seattle is just going to watch Lynch return to the NFL, play for another team, and get nothing in return.
“I think the Seahawks are going to want something back from the Oakland Raiders,” Schefter said. “They paid Marshawn Lynch all this money on his last contract, they’re going to be eating that money, they’re not going to recoup some of that bonus money that they can technically say that he owes them, so they’re going to want something back for his services. I don’t think it will be a lot, but they’re going to want something which is why this could go on for a little bit of time. And they’re prepared to carry him on their roster through the draft.”
What exactly would Seattle be going after?
OverTheCap’s Jason Fitzgerald covered what Lynch’s holdups in a reinstatement/move to the Raiders could be, back on March 17 when the rumors began. Basically, when Lynch retired there was $5 million in signing bonus money that they could have gone after that they opted to leave alone. If Lynch wants to return, but not for the Seahawks, it would make sense then that they aren’t going to just allow him to keep all of this money just to watch him not only play again, but play for someone else. They can only go after the bonus money if they release him though, not if he plays in Seattle, and not if they trade him.
That being said, keeping Lynch would count $9 million against the salary cap and trading him to Oakland would mean that the Raiders are going to have to pay him $9 million unless they negotiate him down to a more reasonable figure. Fitzgerald adds this tidbit though: “Those are issues that would need to be discussed prior to any trade and at the moment Oakland should not have been allowed to have any contact with him about a possible contract.”
The least complicated way to do this is for Lynch to apply for reinstatement, the Seahawks release him, ask for a return on their bonus money which is $2.5 million in 2016 and $2.5 million in 2017, and he signs a new deal with the Raiders. The most complicated way would involve a trade, but then Seattle could not ask for any bonus money in return. At most, you’d think they could get a conditional sixth round pick or maybe a player of low value; I’ve had my eye on reserve safety/cornerback Keith McGill, a fourth round pick in 2014 who tested extremely well at the combine (6’3, 33.25” arms, 4.51 40-yard dash, 39” vert, 10’9 broad) but has played poorly throughout his career. That’s still much better than I think the Seahawks could do with a late day three pick or some bonus money.
But at this point, we’re still waiting on Lynch pulling the trigger on his reinstatement. Until then, it’s just more speculation.