Marshawn Lynch and the Seahawks: Is tomorrow the last dance?

Conan O’Brien, Beast Mode apparel and not talking to the media have kept one particular Marshawn Lynch story line out of the national debate over the last few days.

Is this the end?

It could be. Pushing the NFL’s buttons this week smacks of a player with nothing to lose. Is it mere rebellion or a final middle-digit salute? Only one man truly knows.

Lynch still has his confidants in the media — Michael Silver being one of them. Here’s what he told the NFL Network yesterday on the discussion of Beast Mode’s future in the league.

“So why is there all this tension between Marshawn Lynch and his employers — which is real — why is he so mad? Over the off-season — might not have resounded nationally — but Darrell Bevell the offensive coordinator went to a Chamber of Commerce event I believe or a season ticket holder event and made a point of saying, ‘we are going to split carries, we are going to have running back by committee’. Of course they’re high on Christine Michael and they drafted Robert Turbin the year before — and Marshawn heard that and he was kind of like, ‘hmmmm’. And then, Pete Carroll kind of reinforced that and then I think Pete said Christine Michael’s going to have a very, very prominent role and you kept hearing all the way through training camp, ‘oh man! Christine Michael!”. Well, Marshawn wanted more money and they gave him a little more — he came back — and proceeded to reinforce the fact that there’s not another Marshawn Lynch walking through that door. Because all that’s happened, I think they’ll put a band-aid on this situation and he will be there next year. Certainly they want him back at his salary for next year (currently $8.5m). Certainly he will hold out this time more forcefully if they don’t give him more. I think they’ll solve the problem and give him a few million more — which is smart business. Keep him as long as you can.”

He was then asked whether he believed Lynch was actually benched in the games he didn’t start in 2014 — or did he really have an upset stomach and/or bad back?

“No, I think it’s the opposite. I can’t prove it, but I think Marshawn Lynch picked strategic times to remind them ‘you kind of need me’. That whole ‘backfield by committee thing’ — OK. Look, he’s always been there on Sunday’s. He always plays hard. But let’s look at the season. First series against the Redskins — Monday Night Football everyone watching — Marshawn’s not in the game? Oh yeah his back’s acting up. Kansas City game was the last game they lost. It’s half-time. ‘You know what? My back’s not feeling right. I’m just going to stay on the field, out in the cold during half-time, while you all go in and talk about it’. Now that happened. And then the game you mentioned Arizona. ‘I’m not really loose maybe you should run with Turbin this quarter’. I can’t prove it, I don’t know if it’s true for sure, but I think the tension is real — I think that’s more likely.”

Silver appears to be indulging in a bit of educated speculation — there’s often an element of “I know something” about stuff like this. As in, “this is exactly the situation I’m just not spelling it out for you.” Especially when you know, as we do, that Silver is very close to the Lynch camp.

A few thoughts on this:

— If Lynch really did start playing little games (sitting out the start of the Redskins game, the whole half-time charade in KC), it fully explains the many reports suggesting Seattle had “grown tired” of Lynch’s act. Imagine having to deal with that if you’re Pete Carroll? Imagine how potentially divisive that could be? That’s not acceptable, quite frankly — whatever your beef is with the team. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that at one point during the 2014 season the Seahawks reportedly felt a divorce was inevitable.

— If Lynch really is going to “hold out more forcefully”, this situation is getting resolved in the next few weeks. I cannot imagine a scenario where the Seahawks sleepwalk into training camp, Lynch is a no-show and the drama explodes into life again. Marshawn Lynch was the 5th best paid running back in 2014 and on his current deal will almost certainly be the 6th best paid in 2015 after DeMarco Murray hits free agency (numbers via Spotrac). A pay increase of less than a million dollars will be enough to move Lynch up to #3 on the list. He’ll need an extra $3.45m to equal LeSean McCoy at #2. The Seahawks are preparing to pay Russell Wilson a +$100m contract. Starters Byron Maxwell and James Carpenter are free agents. Bobby Wagner and J.R. Sweezy are both one year away from free agency. There’s a lot of work to be done. Basically, none of the other domino’s can fall until they find out whether they can afford to meet Lynch’s demands or whether they’ll have to part ways and save $7.5m against the cap in the process. It could be a case of keep Marshawn for an extra year and lose Maxwell, Carpenter and possibly a cap-casualty like Zach Miller.

— Silver points out twice that the tension is “real”. Can it be fully repaired for one more season? This is a big point to consider here. Whether Lynch likes it or not, Russell Wilson’s placing within the Seahawks organisation is going to change when he receives the biggest contract in the NFL. Even if Andrew Luck signs an even bigger deal this off-season, Wilson is going to be a pretty close #2. His personality and leadership will define this team, at least on offense, moving forward. They cannot have players creating drama or taking themselves out of games to prove a point. The offense moving forward will, of course, remain run-based. But the personnel will be drafted and developed to mesh with Wilson the player and Wilson the character. Another year of Lynch is attractive because he’s one of the best players in the league. Yet Silver calls it a “band-aid” situation and band-aid’s fall off sometimes. The Seahawks will have to make a big decision on whether they want to risk that happening or whether it’s simply time to move on.

— Silver indicates the Seahawks will probably pony up to make sure he stays put — but is there any way at all he’s doing some of Lynch’s bidding by pointing out it’s what they should do? After all, it raises expectations. It’s seen as the right thing to do. If the Seahawks go against the grain when keeping Lynch is a possibility — they look like the bad guys. Lynch’s popularity within the fan base has never been higher. The 12’s are lapping up his approach to the media — even going as far to say, “leave him alone”. I think he’s brought a lot of the attention on himself (it’s quite easy to fade into the background — how many Tom Brady quotes have you seen this week?) and I think it’s all planned and executed to perfection. Rather than need protection, I think Lynch knows exactly what he’s doing. I don’t think he wants to conform to the league — whether it’s speaking to the media, wearing gold cleats or grabbing his crotch. This is his form of protest — and it’s effective. The fans are loving it. For the Seahawks to cut Lynch from this position, they’ll have to justify it to the most passionate fan base in the league. I wouldn’t want to write that speech.

So what if they can’t sort this out? Well, it means tomorrow could be the end. If not in Lynch’s career, at least his time in Seattle. Ultimately Silver is probably right and he’ll stay for another year. It will make it very difficult to keep Maxwell and Carpenter — or make any free agent acquisitions. It could make it harder to re-sign Wagner and/or Sweezy this year. It would put extra pressure on the draft — but the Seahawks are expected to have 10-11 picks to play with. It might be why we’re hearing about interest in Ty Sambrailo. It might put extra pressure on Seattle to draft an impact corner instead of a mere developmental prospect. They might have to cut other players like Zach Miller to make savings elsewhere.

Ultimately it might come down to this. Is it easier to replace Byron Maxwell, Zach Miller and James Carpenter or Marshawn Lynch? You probably don’t need me to answer that question.


  1. mrpeapants

    ive heard it a few times this week from players that they really want lynch to get the mvp of the sb. makes me think they want to send him off to retirement in grand style. im probably reading too much into that, but ya never know. I hope he stays, even at the expense of losing miller and carp. maxi is gone anyway.

    cant wait till kickoff go hawks

  2. Brett

    To me it’s a no brainer. The Hawks may want to part with Carp and Miller for non-financial reasons anyway. Maxwell would be tough to lose, but as the best CB on the market he may price himself out of range regardless of giving Lynch a raise or not. Lynch shoes no signs of slowing down. They need to make it work for another year.

  3. bigDhawk

    Meh, Lynch will be back at least one more season. I have no reservations about that. One thing that hasn’t been mentioned much is his potential desire for a Super Bowl 3-PETE next year. He’s made no secret about his desire for a second ring this year and given that championship passion I have to think he would covet a 3-PETE even more, possibly then retiring (though I wanna go for the 4-PETE.)

    I’ll just say it. Cut Okung. It will save 5 million on the 2015 cap. He is not a franchise LT, so there is no point in talking about how franchise LTs are hard to find. We don’t have one. When he plays he is above average at best, and the rest of the time he doesn’t play. Which is about half the season. Every season. Maxwell, in my opinion, is a better player than Okung. He is a core defender who was good enough to send Brandon Browner packing last year, whom the Patriots thought was worth 17 million and 2 IC penalties a game. Our secondary would be in worse shape next year with Simon replacing Maxwell then our OL would be with Bailey replacing Okung. To my eyes Bailey has flashed at LT even with the supposed extra weight. Despite the talk of him eventually moving to guard, I think Bailey’s best position may be at LT. Long story short, a fully extended Maxwell plus Bailey at LT for 16 games in 2015 is way better than Simon opposite Sherm and Okung playing maybe half a season. Okung’s 5 million in cap savings can get that done, as well as ensuring Beastmode is here for at least one more year.

    • redzone086

      And go HAWKS!

    • AlaskaHawk

      If I had to choose between the two I would pick Maxwell to. The secondary would be awesome for a long time. Whereas the offensive line seems to be a work in progress. So lock in the secondary and keep drafting linemen.

      • Ukhawk

        IMO while we might want to, we can’t keep BMax as he will be just too expensive….upside is that it sounds like JS is determined to jack up his “comp pick” value by making a decent offer for him to stay

    • Volume 12

      I think CB Tharold Simon is great for this defense. One bad game is not indicative of what his career will be. I heard no complaints before he separated his shoulder. I do think they probably draft a corner higher than the 5th or 6th this year. Look for one to be taken in the 4th round with all those comp picks IMO. 3 big or bigger CBs and 2 nickel backs seems to be this team’s preference when it comes to corner backs.

      As for OL Russell Okung, be careful what you wish for. I think Colorado St Ol Ty Sambrailo is a really intriguing and good fit at LG for this team should they choose him. He’d also be a natural at RT if they went that route and possibly gives them a future LT, but worst case is he gives them depth at that spot and RT while becoming a plug and play LG.

      TE Zach Miller, while I like him and thinks he brings a lot the table, as Rob inferred, not more than Beastmode. Miami TE Clive Walford is another great fit for what this team does. Tough/physical run blocker, know when to disengage his man at the POA, good athlete, soft hands, and has a real ‘Seahawky’ vibe about him. I also expect big things out of TE Luke Willson next year. He’s shown signs of improvement both years now, even if they are baby steps.

      GO HAWKS!

  4. Chris

    If he actually was taking himself out of games on purpose that would be inexcusable. I have a hard time believing Lynch would fail his teammates to such a degree tho.

  5. Cameron

    At this point what worries me is not that ML will hold out for more money – that is a given, but that he will demand a longer term commitment in the form of an extension.

    I’m afraid he will see this as his one last chance at a big money contract. Unless it’s an extension and money in theory only (i.e. little/no guaranteed money) I will be dead set against it. We can’t afford to be spending big money on a RB who is on the wrong side of 30.

    I do agree with you Rob, this situation needs to be figured out soon. Ideally it’s sorted out before free agency starts as so many other decisions are going to be dependent upon it.

    Just out of curiosity Rob, do you see teams out there, right now, who are able and willing to give Marshawn a big contract? Who might they be?

  6. Bob Johnston

    I think Mike Silver is very good at creating his own narratives with no actual proof required. I look at the games where Mrshawn misses the start as being more likely due to travel – they’ve all been on the road. Perhaps his back simply tightens up during a flight. I doubt that Silver has any special knowledge.

    • Nathan

      30 minutes would make no difference, if they fly the day before, which I assume they do.

  7. Ukhawk

    Is his issue with the media, team, organisation or coach?? Is it created by him or real. Knowing the truth would be interesting.

    Love beast mode more than ever. But it must come to an end at some point. Point is he is a key piece you want to keep but this is a team game and keeping Marshawn won’t be at the expensive of having to win now nor ‘win forever’

    • UKHawkDavid

      Good question – I suspect that it’s mainly the media, with a potential separate issue *MAYBE* causing problems for the coaching staff. Unfortunately as the main issue impacts on the media, it’s going to take a bloody long time to get to the bottom of it as we get fed unsubstantiated reports (aka rumours). His teammates don’t seem to have an issue with him during the game (field or sidelines).

      Oh, and please don’t think I’m lumping Rob into my comment above – I think this website is excellent (probably my favourite since finding it).

  8. Amar

    Let’s worry about this after the SB. If the hawks win, I really don’t care what they do. I would absolutely love Lynch back for 1-2 more years. But, if what Silver says is true, then isn’t Lynch kinda doing the same thing as what Harvin was accused of? I guess the big difference is Lynch always did that (if true) in the 1Q as opposed to the 4Q (Harvin).

    Anyway, if the Hawks win the SB, the pressure is really off. Back to back SBs – accomplished. It might also accelerate Wilson moving to a 30-31 throw/game (a jump of about 3-5 throws/game), which will inevitably need to happen after Lynch is gone. With a QB getting paid $20M+ per year, you also can’t have an elite RB (when yr 2 of wilson big money kicks in).

  9. EranUngar

    I’m not sure i buy into the Silver nerrative. There are too many positive voices favoring Lynch within the team. I can’t see them being that vocal about it over a player who play games that hurt the team during game day.

    Having said that and with all the love and adortion i have for the Beast, if he intentionally played games during game day and sidelined himself just to prove a point to the management over the nacks of his team mates, he has to go. No player is bigger then the team.

    Still, as i said at the start, i don’t believe that is the case. Or, i hope that’s not the case. No player on this team means more for the team identity then Lynch and i’d love to see him next year in Seahawks uniforms.

    I guess we’ll find out in the next few weeks.

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