The last time Marshawn Lynch made a national splash with everyone watching was in February, when he hung up his spikes on Twitter to retire during the Super Bowl.
On Thursday, the NFL’s showcase night of its season-opening game, NBC had a story on its Carolina-Denver pregame show about the retired Lynch being “up in the air about a potential return” to pro football.
This, from NBC’s Mike Florio, who also writes for Pro Football Talk, an NBC-sponsored website: “Per a source with knowledge of the situation, Lynch is currently “up in the air” about returning to the NFL. The source said that Week Four or Week Five could be the hot spots for a possible unretirement.”
The Seahawks have the 30-year-old Lynch under contract not only for this season but 2017, as well.
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So the Seahawks, not Lynch, have the authority on if and with whom Lynch would return to play this season.
The Seahawks put their star running back on the reserve/retired list on May 5.
Then in June, Lynch stared into a television camera on 60 Minutes Sports on Showtime and said: “I’m RETIRED. Is that good enough?”
Then he turned to a producer.
“Which camera do you want me to look into? This one?” Lynch said. “I’m done. I’m not playing football anymore.”
Lynch’s contract is held in abeyance while he’s on Seattle’s reserve/retired list. If he were to ask the team to reinstate him from that list, he is currently scheduled for a $9 million base salary. The team would immediately prorate that pay depending on when Lynch would theoretically return to playing, and that cost would be in addition to the $5 million sunk cost already accounted for on Seattle’s 2016 cap for his remaining prorated signing-bonus cash.
Seattle would either renegotiate new money to welcome Lynch back onto its roster, trade him and that prorated contract, or release him.
The Seahawks have clearly moved on after Lynch. Running back Thomas Rawls came back last week to play in the preseason finale for the first time since he broke his ankle in December. He was the league’s leader in yards per carry last season filling in for the injured Lynch. Rawls is on track to play in Sunday’s season opener against Miami.
Christine Michael has gained the coaches’ and team’s trust in his second go-round as Seattle’s No. 2 back. And the Seahawks drafted C.J. Prosise to be the third-down, pass-catching back plus Alex Collins to contribute bruising runs.
If Seattle was to release him before the league’s trading deadline in Week 8, Lynch would become a free agent open to sign a new contract with any team — hometown Oakland, hello? If the Seahawks were to release him after Week 8, he’d go through league waivers. If no team claimed him on waivers Lynch would then become a free agent.
Yes, a step or three before any of Thursday’s report of a potential return could become reality.