The last time Marshawn Lynch made a national splash on a huge stage with everyone was watching was in February, when he hung up his spikes on Twitter to retire during the Super Bowl.
Thursday, the NFL’s showcase night of its season-opening game, there was a story from NBC’s Carolina-Denver pregame show about the retired Lynch being “up in the air about a potential return” a possible return to football.
Of course there was.
This, from NBC’s Mike Florio:
“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,” Florio also wrote for Pro Football Talk.
As Florio pointed out on air, the Seahawks have the 30-year-old Lynch under contract not only for this season but 2017, as well.
So the Seahawks, not Lynch, have the first authority on if and with whom Lynch would return to play this season.
May 5, the Seahawks put their star running from 2010 through last season on the reserve/retired list. The move coming before June 1 meant the Seahawks have all of the $5 million remaining of Lynch’s salary-cap charges this year. That moved saved the team $6.5 million for 2016.
Then in June, Lynch stared into a television camera on 60 Minutes Sports on Showtime and said sternly: ““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.”
Now, on to the hypotheticals Florio started Thursday:
Lynch’s contract is essentially 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 signing-bonus cash.
There’s no way in the Seahawks’ blue-and-green earth they would pay him the full value of that salary they negotiated with him before the 2015 season. So 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 in their life 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 was ill on Thursday and missed practice but 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.
Other than that, the decks are completely clear for Lynch to return to the Seahawks(!)
Of course, that may be what Lynch wants, to play for some team other than Seattle. Hello, hometown Oakland -- where the Seahawks visited with him at his Beast Mode apparel store on Broadway downtown on the day of last week’s preseason game at the Raiders.
Of course, of course, with Lynch no one truly ever knows.
If Seattle was (to continue this hypothetical) 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 -- 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 -- teams get chances to make waiver claims on players in reverse order of league standings at the time of those players are on waivers -- Lynch would then become a free agent.
Got all that?
Yes, a step or three before any of Thursday’s report of a “potential” return could actually become reality.
But it’s fun for many to talk and think about.