This was always going to end one of three ways: he’d return happy, he’d return disgruntled, or he wouldn’t return. You don’t ever want to see those last two options come to fruition, so let’s all thank our lucky stars that we’ve got a happy Beastmode back in the fold.
I know he’s getting a little extra money, and the storyline will be how Lynch “won” his holdout, but this really strikes me as a case where the guy was getting rammed in the ass with daily fines (and losing a huge chunk of his signing bonus), who wanted the daily ass rammings to stop. So, he came to the Seahawks and said, “Please, just give me something, so I don’t look like a punk in this thing.” To which the Seahawks decided to guarantee $1 million worth of his incentive bonuses, and tacked on an extra $500,000.
Lynch’s base salary was going to be $5 million; that hasn’t changed. He was due a $500,000 roster bonus, which was going to come no matter what. There was no way the Seahawks were going to cut him before the season. All he had to do was BE on the roster in any of the regular season weeks and he’d get that money. There would have been another $500,000 bonus had he eclipsed the 1,500-yard mark in 2014. That one was less likely. Yes, he managed to do just that in 2012, but he dipped back down to career norms in 2013. And, considering he’s another year older, I’m not sure this coaching staff wants to load Lynch down with 300+ carries for a third straight year. Not if we want to keep him healthy and fresh for another playoff run.
So, Lynch will make $6.5 million guaranteed, instead of $5.5 million guaranteed. I think the other $500,000 was somehow moved from next year to this year, so that lessens the burden for us next year (if we decide to keep him, which I can’t imagine happening).
Anyway, it’s all over. How does this change things? In the short term, not much. Yes, Lynch is back with the team, but I can’t imagine he’ll be practicing all that much. He’s mastered the offense. It’s all a matter of getting him some reps to get him used to game conditions, and spreading those reps out with long periods of rest. He likely won’t play much in the pre-season – because why bother exposing him – and everything will play out as normal. Unless it doesn’t.
If Lynch gets injured, I wouldn’t blame it on him holding out for a week. He still has plenty of time to get himself ready for the season. Any injury that may happen would be a freak occurrence and nothing more.
I’m just glad this is something we don’t have to talk about anymore. People who got angry with Beastmode just need to chill the fuck out. The team knows it’s a business, the players know it’s a business; this isn’t something you necessarily have to take sides on. Lynch won’t have any more big paydays coming to him, because he’s getting up there in age, because he’s had a shitload of carries in his career, because of his running style and all the hits he’s taken/initiated, and because the NFL has greatly devalued the running back position. He IS one of the top three or four running backs in the NFL and probably deserves to be compensated accordingly. The team brought him back on a sweetheart of a deal when they extended him originally; had he failed miserably in living up to that deal, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that the Seahawks would have cut him already, costing Lynch millions.
That’s the way it goes in the NFL. You play well, you’re entitled to more money. You play poorly (or get injured a lot), and you get nothing. It’s the best system in sports. It beats the hell out of baseball and all their guaranteed contracts, and it beats the hell out of the NBA with their guaranteed contracts WITH a salary cap. You don’t get stuck in a situation where you’re paying a guy $20 million per year to ride the pine, and you don’t get into situations where you have to trade expiring contracts just to create more room to sign worthy players. As a consequence, sometimes players hold out. I’d rather have a few time-consuming hold outs than the alternative. Contracts aren’t contracts in the NFL. You don’t have to honor shit; so you shouldn’t be mad when players don’t “honor” theirs.
While I’m here, talking about Lynch, I might as well talk about my expectations for him in the 2014 season.
Over the last three years, Lynch has carried the ball 901 times in 47 regular season games. That comes out to a fraction over 19 carries per game. If we can scale that back to around 15 carries per game, that brings him all the way down to 240 carries, which is EXACTLY where I’d like to see him.
If we look at 2013 as an example, the Seahawks as a team rushed the ball 509 times. 301 by Lynch, 96 by Russell Wilson, 77 by Turbin, 18 by Michael, and 17 by Others. In an ideal season – with no significant injuries – if we cut Lynch’s workload by 60 carries, and give those carries to Michael to see if he has what it takes to be The Man next year, then I think we’ll be in great shape.
That still gives Lynch 15 carries per game, Wilson gets 6 carries, Turbin & Michael get about 4-5 carries each, and you probably factor Harvin in for 2-3 carries per game. Obviously, you can’t regiment them out perfectly every single game, but here’s a solution I think we’re likely to see: give Lynch all the usual breaks within a game that you would in one of his 300-carry seasons. But, go ahead and sit him for a couple extra series per game. Maybe one series early in the second quarter, and one series in the middle of the third quarter. He doesn’t leave the sideline at all, unless there’s an injury or something.
Doesn’t this make sense?
I dunno. I’m just glad he’s back and he’s happy. Contrary to unpopular opinion, the Seahawks probably do need Lynch to thrive this year. I’m not saying that the Seahawks would fall off the cliff without Lynch, and turn into a 4-12 team or anything. But, there would certainly be something missing without him.
Christine Michael very well might be a special running back, but at this point he’s a total unknown. If he reaches his ceiling, he could be a poor man’s Adrian Peterson. What’s certain is that he’s a dynamic talent. He’s more likely than Lynch to rip off a long run, going from 0 to 60 in a flash. He’s also got amazing catching ability, far superior to Beastmode. At the end of the year, you could see either one of these players run for 1,200 yards or more. But, it’s how Michael gets there that will define him as a running back.
It’s one thing to explode for hundreds of yards against crappy teams. But, how will Michael do against the 49ers, Cardinals, and Rams? When he’s hit in the backfield – and he WILL be hit in the backfield – how does he shed those tackles and turn losses into gains? We know what Lynch can do with those. Marshawn Lynch is like an ace starting pitcher in baseball: even on his bad days, he’s still going to give you a ton of effort and put up some pretty good numbers. If Michael is ever given the keys to this running game, he might break the team record for 200-yard performances; but, how many 20-yard performances will there be? Will he be hot one game and then totally disappear the next, because the defense was “too stout”?
That’s the difference. NO defense is too stout for Lynch. He’ll get you SOMETHING against just about everyone. It has yet to be seen what Michael will do.
This is why I want to see Michael incorporated more into the offense in 2014. No point in just letting him rot on the bench. He needs reps to show what he can do. Lynch, for good measure, needs more rest to stay fresh. This is a match made in heaven if we can work it out right.