One thing I failed to explore in the previous post is: what’s the market look like for a guy like Marshawn Lynch?
Yes, the Franchise Tag is a good cost-cutting tool when trying to re-sign a player. But, a complete and utter lack of teams desiring to sign an over-priced running back is probably the best thing the Seahawks could ask for.
Of course, on Lynch’s side, you’ve got the age-old adage: it only takes one.
So, let’s just go around the league. For starters, you can count out the NFC East. Dallas has any number of quality young backs already locked in (including super-stud DeMarco Murray who is sure to be a fantasy god for years to come). The Giants appear to be set with Bradshaw and whoever else behind him. The Redskins have a nice little stable of young backs. And the Eagles have Shady McCoy (and, I imagine, not a whole lot of cap room to boot).
In the NFC North, I’m banking my life-savings (and one of my fantasy keepers) on the fact that they will retain Matt Forte. Minnesota obviously has one of the very best backs in the league. The Detroit Lions, however, could be interesting. All they’ve got on their roster right now is Jahvid Best, and he’s a fucking injury waiting to happen! It’s certainly NOT a good sign that he ended his season with concussions last year. And, you’d have to think that for a young team trying to cultivate this bad-ass attitude, a guy like Beastmode would slide right in nicely. Even MORE interesting are the Green Bay Packers. You’ve got a team with an all-world quarterback, with a shitload of receivers, and with absolutely no running game to speak of whatsoever. Ryan Grant is a free agent who has played his last game with the green and gold; James Starks is good, but he’s no Beastmode. I gotta think Lynch might be just the piece to put the right balance into that explosive offense.
The NFC South will be no competition. Atlanta still has a lot of money tied up in Michael Turner. New Orleans drafted the top running back last season (and they have other money tied up in three or four other guys); plus, theirs is not an offense that would make any sense for a guy like Lynch. Carolina still has three running backs (including the guy who takes snaps from the center). And Tampa is a young team that will never in a million years put in the money it would take to get Lynch.
As for the other teams in the NFC West: San Francisco has Gore, St. Louis has Jackson, and Arizona has Wells. They all seem pretty committed to their guys.
You know who scares me more than any other team in the NFL? The New England Patriots. Think about it, they were THIS close to winning it all this past season! What were they missing? What are they ALWAYS missing? A balanced offensive attack! Let’s face it, Tom Brady isn’t getting any younger. Yes, I know the Patriots like to skimp on their running backs (just as they like to bank draft picks for future drafts), but at one point or another, they’re going to have to cash in before it’s too late. That crack about Tom Brady not getting any younger: the same can be said for him not getting any BETTER. Tom Brady is as good as he’s ever going to be; it’s all downhill from here. One of these seasons, his skills are going to erode. He’s not going to see the open receiver soon enough, he’s going to force more and more balls into coverage, he’s going to take more and more hits from ferocious defenses looking to take out the guy while he’s on top. The Pats could sure as shit use a guy like Lynch to take off some of the load.
And, don’t look now, but Kevin Faulk and BenJarvus Green-Ellis are both free agents. They’re not going to hand the ball off to Danny Woodhead and Shane Vereen 30 times a game! Why WOULDN’T they make a huge push to get Lynch and start dominating the Time of Possession in every game? What’s the downside here?
Elsewhere in the AFC East, the Dolphins are tied up with Reggie Bush and Daniel Thomas, the Jets seem pretty happy with Shonn Greene and whatever young buck they’re going to slide behind him. And, of course, the Bills have Jackson and Spiller (plus, duh, they’re the team that traded Lynch in the first place).
In the AFC North, you know damn well Baltimore is re-signing Ray Rice, so forget about it. The Steelers would be an AWESOME fit for a guy like Beastmode, but they’re still stuck with Mendenhall (plus, they NEVER fork over money on free agents). Cincy won’t fork over the money it’ll take either. And the Browns – in spite of his sub-par season – will most likely re-sign Hillis (plus, they’ve got a stable of young backs they could easily throw into the mix should Hillis go elsewhere).
The AFC South has three teams that are simply non-starters. Houston has not one but TWO massively effective running backs (Foster, who’s a fantasy god; and Tate who – as a backup – nearly ran for 1,000 yards). The Titans have Chris Johnson and his massively insane contract. And the Jags have one of the better all-around guys in MJD.
The Indianapolis Colts, however, are a God damned wild card and I just don’t like it! Now, for starters, if they opt to keep Peyton Manning, then you can just skip to the next paragraph right now, because they won’t have two cents to rub together. But, let’s say they let him and his $28 million walk: suddenly, they’re in play! They will have a rookie quarterback starting from Game 1. They don’t have a single running back worth a good God damn on their team. And, the organization will have to do something for its fans to make up for the fact that they just let go of a Hall of Famer (especially if he goes to another team and starts kicking ass again). I wouldn’t put it past the Colts to do something drastic; mark my words.
In the AFC West, we’re talking about teams who are all pretty much set. The Chiefs will be looking for Jamaal Charles to bounce back from an early-season season-ending injury in 2011. The Broncos still have Willis McGahee and Knowshon Moreno. And the Raiders will still have McFadden; if they re-sign Michael Bush, then all the more reason for them to NOT sign Lynch.
So, aside from the Seahawks, we’re talking about four potential teams: Detroit, Green Bay, New England, and Indianapolis. All have ample reasons to sign a back like Lynch; all have ample reasons to not do a damn thing. There will be other, cheaper options out there (Hillis, Bush, Mike Tolbert, Cedric Benson, Tashard Choice, Justin Forsett, Ryan Grant) for teams like New England and Detroit to snap up, if they so choose to go the tightwad route. Really, it’s tough to know exactly WHICH of these four teams would be the most likely, considering I don’t know what their cap situations are like. If I were Green Bay or New England, though, I’d think long and hard. Both teams were DAMN close this past season. Both teams had very similar, pass-first types of offenses. And both teams lost to the same team (the Giants) which could have been avoided had they had a running game.
Something to think about as these Beastmode negotiations continue.