Of course running back Marshawn Lynch won’t be back in Seattle, for reasons previously explained. Most importantly, he counts $11.5 million against the cap in 2016; backup Thomas Rawls counts only a mere $530,000.
Coach Pete Carroll told reporters on Monday that he doesn’t know what will happen with Lynch. If so, he’s the only one who doesn’t. It feels inevitable that Lynch will be gone, unless he agrees to a dramatic reduction in his $9 million base salary a year after missing two months following surgery to repair a core-muscle injury.
“We’ll figure it out,” Carroll said regarding whether Lynch fits the team’s evolving offense. “It depends on how he comes back, and how he works at it, and all that kind of stuff. He had a difficult year physically. He’s never [had] to recover from an injury like that, he’s never had to deal with that kind of process. He made it back. To his credit he certainly worked hard to get back, and he made it back to play, it just was a terrible opportunity for him to have a chance to have an impact in the game.”
The 31-0 first-half deficit indeed made it difficult for Lynch to do much of anything, which in turn makes it easier for the Seahawks to move on. If he’d regained his Beast Mode vibe, and if he’d helped the team to another Super Bowl appearance, the Seahawks may have had no choice but to pay him $9 million for another year, much in the same way the Seahawks had no choice but to give Shaun Alexander a huge contract after he carried the team to the Super Bowl a decade ago.
And so the Seahawks have an opening to sever ties, and it would be a shock at this point if they don’t. The mere fact that Carroll didn’t say that Marshawn definitely will be back strongly suggests he won’t be, and the absence of any attempt to undo the potential damage coming from offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell’s Sunday comments to ESPN that could be regarded as critical of Lynch indicate that the team no longer is worried about tiptoeing around him.
The tiptoeing tone apparently was set at the top of the organization, with as one source explained it Carroll avoiding the issue of talking to Lynch and instead relying on others to communicate with him. While much of the problems flow from the way Lynch has handled others, the Seahawks perhaps haven’t handle Lynch in an ideal way, either.
Regardless, the Seahawks will have to handle Marshawn in the future only if they are tackling him as the member of an opposing team. Whether he signs with another team will hinge on how much another team will pay him, and how much he wants. There’s undoubtedly a number below which he won’t go; if another team won’t meet or beat that number, there’s a chance Lynch does what he has threatened to do each of the last two offseasons.