Marshawn Lynch is the "Tracy Jordan" of the Seattle Seahawks.
He's fun and lovable, but above all else, he's valuable. The Seahawks aka "TGS," wouldn't have been successful without him and even his unique (and sometimes distracting) antics were just part of what made him so great to have around. Some people's good characteristics and faults are on such extreme ends of the spectrum that you're never sure what they'll do next, but you know it'll be worth your while.
Lynch just won the Super Bowl, so you should have maybe expected that this was going to happen next.
If Lynch does not skip OTAs and this was all just a misunderstanding, if he's not just holding out for a new contract, then surely we've all overreacted again to a nothing story that was blown out of proportion on a slow June news day. But it certainly does not seem like it's a story to dismiss. There were rumors floating around during Super Bowl week that he was considering retirement. Then he skipped the White House event. Now this. What's his motivation? It is just money?
Honestly, I don't think "Money Lynch" has ever been that simple. Like Tracy Jordan, his motivations go beyond just money. This is a guy that lives to be more outlandish today than he was yesterday. The guy that goes to a Super Bowl parade in his (and the team's) honor, but seems more intent on having a fan pass him a bottle of Fireball. A guy that will not speak to the media, but will welcome people into his life so they can see how he goes about buying a new grill.
You think that "I'm just about that action, Boss" is a soundbite? No. It's a way of life and he means it. Up until tomorrow when being "just about that action, Boss" is tired and expected, and then Lynch will be just about something else. Marshawn Lynch doesn't f*ck around, he means what he says and what he doesn't say. That's why you love him and that's also why he could be exactly the type of person to walk away even though he has plenty more left to give.
Lynch is still younger than Matt Forte, Adrian Peterson, Reggie Bush, and Chris Johnson. He also signed a four-year extension just two years ago that paid him $17 million in guaranteed cash. So why would he walk away now? Why would he already be upset with his current deal?
Well, according to OvertheCap, Lynch is set to take a paycut next year. And the news from Darrell Bevell that they could use more of a "running back-by-committee" is also likely to take money away from Money.
Lynch's contract pays him a $500,000 bonus in 2014 and 2015 if he rushes for 1,500 yards. In 2012, Lynch rushed for 1,590 yards, so it might seem like that would be a possibility for future seasons. But after the drafting of Christine Michael, and the fact that Lynch will now probably have fewer carries than he did last season when he rushed for just 1,257 yards, he knows that the bonus is a pipe dream.
Lynch's base salary will also drop from $7 million to $5 million, and the team can release him and save $4 million against the cap. If Lynch gets hurt between now and Week 1, he has little guaranteed cash coming his way. If Michael manages to ourperform him -- and some people are saying that Michael is going to be the best running back of the last few drafts -- then Lynch has few guarantees and Seattle could walk away. So Lynch sees a significant problem in front of him, and going to OTAs may be more of a risk than it's worth. The offseason has already seen players like Sean Lee and Sean Weatherspoon be ruled out for the season.
How does MarSHAWN know if just anyone with a name even somewhat like Sean is going to get screwed?
Suddenly a potential holdout doesn't seem quite so ridiculous. Both sides would seem to have significant cause for pause here, but what options do they have? If the Seahawks have an opportunity to trade Lynch, will they take it and if Lynch is traded, what guarantee does he have that he'll get a guarantee? Because it's not just enough for him to be on another team -- why would he want to go somewhere else from a football standpoint when Seattle is more committed to the run game than just about anyone, and is the number one contender for a championship -- he needs to go to another team that'll say, "We'll give you $20 million guaranteed."
Does that even exist right now? Let's break it down:
Teams that have a running back (or two) already and likely wouldn't commit to another right now
Eagles, Bears, Chiefs, Vikings, Chargers, Packers, 49ers, Cowboys, Lions, Bills, Bucs, Bengals, Saints, Redskins, Patriots, Raiders, Dolphins, Jets, Steelers, Ravens, Texans, Colts, Broncos, Panthers
Teams that just drafted a running back
Titans (Bishop Sankey)
Teams in the NFC West
I could buy that the Jets aren't all that set with Chris Johnson or that the Ravens aren't happy with Ray Rice, or that the Colts aren't settled with Trent Richardson, but I could also buy that the Falcons are happy with Steven Jackson/Jacquizz Rodgers or that the Giants are set with David Wilson.
They wouldn't trade Lynch within the division, and even if they would, the Cards are probably happy with Andre Ellington and the Rams just drafted Tre Mason and have Zac Stacy as well.
So you're sitting there and you're telling yourself, "Well, well, well, looky what we have here... the Jacksonville Jaguars. We meet again!" and that it would be a perfect fit. But would it really? First of all, the Jaguars were 4-12 last season. Even if they feel like they could improve to 8-8, possibly even contend for the playoffs, does Jacksonville look like a team that will compete for a Super Bowl in the next two years? They also just gave Toby Gerhart over $10 million with a cap hit of $4 million in 2014.
With $28 million in cap space right now, I could definitely see the Jaguars swooping up Lynch if he did get released. He'd bring excitement to an offense that is not exciting, just like he did for Seattle in 2011 and 2012. But I don't think they'd trade even a conditional draft pick for a player that's not unhappy with his team, but is unhappy with his contract.
Gus Bradley was taught better than that.
The Browns could be a sleeper, but again, they are not a contender right now. The Falcons only have a little over $9 million in cap space, and releasing Jackson would only save $1.8 million. They are a good bounceback candidate, but good enough to max out their cap space for a running back, when they are committed to passing the football? The Giants run it even less than Atlanta does, and they have less than $7 million in cap space.
"Trading Marshawn Lynch" seems like a good idea in your mind because Lynch is one of our all-time great players, he's still a couple of years away from 30, he's not owed that much money, and the Seahawks have a stable of interesting backs behind him, but on paper it looks like an absolute dead-end proposition. Which team would actually have the means and need for Lynch, which would include giving up a draft pick and a significant portion of your salary cap while also assuming that he's going to want a new deal when he gets there?
In 1995 this might have seemed like a feasible idea, let alone a good one, but right now it looks like these two parties are either stuck with each other and will have to work it out, or Lynch seriously begins weighing his potential options as a free agent.
It's not like staying in Seattle would be bad for Lynch, or that having Lynch back would be bad for Seattle. It's been a great partnership so far that's helped keep
TGS on the air the Seahawks on top for several magnificent seasons.
Hopefully they can work it out, but they might have to either way.