It’s difficult to get a solid read on whether Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch definitely won’t be at next week’s mandatory minicamp or whether the Seahawks expect him to boycott the event. Regardless, if Lynch wants a new contract, it won’t be a surprise.
At a time when the running back position has lost its luster throughout the league, Lynch remains a home-run hitter for an offense that defies the current pass-to-set-up-the-pass convention in football. With the team handing out huge deals in recent weeks to safety Earl Thomas and cornerback Richard Sherman, it’s hardly a shock that Lynch wants to join in the spoils of victory — and that he’s possibly willing to spoil the current vibe in Seattle to make it happen.
Still, no one really knows what Lynch is going to do. Not even those reportedly or actually close to him.
For example, a source with knowledge of the organization’s thinking disputed the report from Yahoo! Sports that the team doesn’t expext Lynch to attend the mandatory minicamp. (Ultimately, what the team does or doesn’t except could be a matter of semantics.) Terry Blount of ESPN.com also reports that Lynch is “very, very unlikely” to attend, citing an unnamed source “close to the situation.”
There remains a gap between “very, very unlikely to attend” and “won’t attend.” Skipping a mandatory minicamp subjects a player to escalating fines for each day he misses. Under the CBA, the first day skipped at a 2014 mandatory minicamp results in a fine of $11,575. The second day missed moves the fine to $23,150. Miss the third day and the player can be fined another $34,730. That’s a total potential fine of $69,455.
The absence won’t subject Lynch to the potential loss of a portion of his $1.5 million signing bonus allocation for 2014; the labor deal permits forfeitures for missed practices only after a player misses at least six days of training camp. So the end result of $70,000 in lost money (if the Seahawks choose to pursue it) for sending a potent message could be a prudent investment.
Lynch has made $17 million under two years of a four-year contract signed in 2012. He’s due to earn a base salary in 2014 of $5 million with a per-game roster bonus maxing out at $500,000. Well above the market for veteran tailbacks but well below the packages given to stars like Adrian Peterson and LeSean McCoy, it’s not unreasonable for Lynch to want more — especially at a time when guys who were still under contract in Seattle are getting big raises.
The other reality of Lynch comes from the fact that he plays a position with a limited shelf life. Already 28, Lynch is steamrolling toward the point at which the wheels will come off and his skills will disappear and his value to the team will plummet, Shaun Alexander style. And with the team arguably planning for that day by tiptoeing awkwardly around the question of whether Robert Turbin and/or Christine Michael will get more reps this season, now may be the best and indeed only opportunity for Lynch to get another bump in pay.