Because Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch retired — and because the Seahawks placed him on the reserve/retired list — he remains under contract with Seattle. Before he could play for the Raiders, the Seahawks would have to release him or trade him.
The Seahawks could opt to be coy, taking a page from the ongoing effort of the Cowboys to finagle a trade for Tony Romo. Lynch could force the issue by filing with the league office a request to return (it would be granted automatically) and showing up for the offseason program. That would reinstate his $9 million salary (and cap number) from 2016 onto the Seattle bok.
Before letting him go, the Seahawks could ask for a portion of the $5 million in unearned signing bonus money that was paid to Lynch and not pursued after he retired. Or they could simply explain to the Raiders that, because Seattle paid Lynch money for future services that will be rendered elsewhere, the Raiders have even more reason to compensate the Seahawks via trade.
If a trade happens, the next question becomes whether the Raiders would pay Lynch $9 million for 2017. Given his age (31 next month), his absence from the game for a year, and his overall wear and tear, it’s unknown whether he’d truly make a difference in Oakland. Would his hometown team protect itself by going with a low base salary and a strong incentive package?
Or would the Raiders pay whatever needs to be paid because getting Lynch isn’t just about football? It’s about ensuring that the looming Las Vegas lame ducks can keep the stadium full and the local excitement level high for what could be the last two years in Oakland. Having an immensely popular Oakland native in the fold could do just that.