A report Monday that Marshawn Lynch could have interest in playing for the Patriots indicates that there may be no quick resolution to his football future.
Last Wednesday, when Marshawn Lynch visited the Raiders with reports emanating afterward he told the team he wanted to return to football and play in 2017, a quick resolution to Lynch’s future appeared at hand.
But then, few things with Lynch have ever really gone to script in his football career, and his possible return to the field has taken a few sudden, strange turns of late.
First came a story from Pro Football Talk over the weekend making the case that the Raiders need Lynch more than Lynch needs the Raiders.
Then Monday arrived a report that Lynch could be interested in playing for the Patriots.
That each story could be viewed as creating both a market and leverage for Lynch may not be a coincidence. It’s possible Lynch is more interested in joining the Raiders than the Raiders are in signing Lynch — or that Lynch may view the value of his services differently than the Raiders do — and that people close to Lynch are doing a little selective leaking (or maybe the Patriots have leaked interest by Lynch to try to get free agent LeGarrette Bount to come back to the negotiating table).
Regardless, each story makes clear that Lynch-to-the-Raiders may not be the slam dunk it appeared a few days ago.
While Pro Football Talk noted that Lynch could have some significant off-field value for the Raiders — and there’s little doubt about how popular his signing would be — if they are merely trying to add a veteran running back there remain other options with the likes of Adrian Peterson, Jamaal Charles and Blount all still unsigned.
Each of those three also is an unrestricted free agent while with Lynch there remain some hurdles before he can sign. Specifically, Lynch has to be reinstated to the Seattle roster — which as of Monday morning had not been done — and then the Seahawks can either work out a trade or release him and let him become a UFA. But if it expected that if the Seahawks were to release Lynch they would ask him to repay at least $2.5 million of the signing bonus he received as part of his three-year contract with Seattle in 2015.
Seahawks GM John Schneider said last week in two radio interviews that he would expect a move of Lynch to the Raiders would go smoothly because of his relationship with Raiders’ GM Reggie McKenzie — the two worked together for years with the Packers.
A move to the Patriots might be more complicated, though it’s hard to imagine the market for Lynch would be all the different — a trade for a seventh-round pick is generally considered as about the best Seattle would be able to do.
What doesn’t appear to have changed is that if Lynch does return, it won’t be with the Seahawks,
Schneider last week reiterated what has been reported often already — that Lynch would only want to play for the Raiders if he were to return. Lynch is an Oakland native and has been thought infatuated with the idea of playing at least one season in his hometown.
“My understanding is that if he would want to come back and play it would be with the Raiders,” Schneider said.
Recall that Lynch would have a $9 million salary cap hit for the 2017 season. There’s no way the Seahawks would carry that, and no other team will want to, either, meaning he will have to renegotiate a new deal with a team if he is traded, or why it is regarded as more likely he would probably be released and then signed. Seattle can only try to recoup some of his signing bonus if he is released, and it is thought the team will definitely ask.
None of this is insurmountable and what is the main factor in Lynch returning to play —- Lynch, who turns 31 in two weeks, actually wanting to come back and play — doesn’t appear to have changed over the last week or so.
But much of the rest appears increasingly uncertain.