Reading the comments of Kenneth Arthur’s recent piece about what non-Seahawks to watch for, I was shocked to read some post-Seattle hatred against new Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch. Sure, I wasn’t expecting people to don silver and black and root for him because as exciting as some players are, we mostly Seahawks fans first. For example:
“[Marshawn] fucked over the Seahawks for money, and then for spite. Fuck him.”
“[Marshawn] basically took a year off on our dime to fvck around the world while doing multiple interviews where he looked at the camera saying "I’m done." Then he turns around and decides to play again for a different team when we had zero leverage to get anything for him.”
“He fucked the team over because of XLIV. And that asinine conspiracy theory he cooked up. I’m sure he’s a great guy to his teammates, but he spent 2015 onwards successfully exacting revenge on the organization.”
It is an odd “revenge” that saves the “victim” millions of dollars and allows them to keep his playing rights for two more years. In fact, his retirement benefited the Seahawks.
It's Super Bowl 50.
Marshawn Lynch is 30 and has nearly 2,400 carries on his body. He has just had his worst professional season, playing in only seven games, and being on the injury report literally every week of the season. He is faced with a choice.
He can stay on the roster and make $9 million next year, he can hope Schneider does not cut him, or he can retire. If he is cut, the Seahawks have to eat a $5 million dead cap charge. If he retires, they have to eat a $5 million dead cap hit. If he is traded, they have to eat a $5 million dead cap hit. The only difference in the cap hit is whether he is on Seattle’s roster next year. If he is, then it is an $11.5 million cap hit. At this point, the best option for the Seahawks is if Marshawn retires. The FO doesn’t have to deal with the PR of cutting a fan favorite. Marshawn gets to go out on his terms. And, most importantly, the team will retain his rights.
So, at the time of his decision, retirement was the best — for the Seahawks — option.
Of course, maybe I am misinterpreting from where the animus towards Marshawn originates. Maybe it is from the contract he had signed the previous offseason. It’s really annoying trying to find old contract info, but according to an old FG article, citing a PFT report, Marshawn’s deal was $31 million over three years. This was divided into a signing bonus of $7.5 million, yearly base salaries of $4.5, $9, and $7 million, and a $3 million roster bonus in 2017. At the time of this signing, Lynch was coming off another great year: 1,306 yards, 4.7 yards/carry, and a league leading 13 TDs. He was approaching 30, but it did not look like he was slowing down. Coming off that type of season, I seriously doubt that he was planning on retiring in a year. However, he did use his leverage to extract another deal from the team.
Which is not something for which I can ever fault him (or any other player). As a running back in today’s NFL, the expiration date on his career, even if healthy, was approaching fast. The fact that the FO gambled on him having another great, or good, or even healthy year and lost is not Marshawn’s fault. Could the FO have known that a crappy, injury-riddled, year would push him towards retirement? Probably not. But they had to know that investing in 30 year old RBs is a shaky proposition, at best. The move could have worked, but it didn’t and that is not Marshawn’s fault. Furthermore, his trade value after the 2015 season was at an all-time low. What team would have traded anything substantial for an old, injured running back, coming of a 400 yards, 3.8 yards/carry, and 3 TD season? Oh yeah, and his cap hit would have been $9 million for the new team.
Lastly, the fact that he un-retired benefits the Seahawks as well. Because he retired while under contract, Seattle still had his playing rights when he un-retired. This allowed PC/JS to trade him and a 6th for a 5th round pick. That may not be much of an upgrade, but it is more than they would have gotten if he had been cut and waited a year before signing with Oakland (which would have been nothing). So his retirement not only saved the Seahawks $6.5 million in 2016, it also helped pay for an additional 5th rounder.
Oh and in case you forgot.