UPDATE: Here's what I know as of late this afternoon on Marshawn Lynch:
The Seahawks are still in the same status they've been since after the Super Bowl Feb. 1, waiting to get word from Lynch on whether he will agree to a new contract to play in 2015. He was en route from his hometown of Oakland to SeaTac airport on a Southwest Airlines commercial flight accompanied by his agent Doug Hendrickson, headed to team headquarters in Renton; and Lynch at team headquarters in the offseason is more rare than him talking to he media, so we can all surmise what that visit is for.
ESPN first reported today Lynch has agreed to the new contract for one year and $11 million with the Seahawks that the star running back and two-time defending NFC champions have been negotiating for months -- "before you guys even knew," as coach Pete Carroll put it for the running back the Seahawks have wanted back all along, despite national reports to the contrary this past season.
A report by ESPN's (and former News Tribune Seahawks beat writer) John Clayton said the agreement is for one season with $1 million in base pay, with a $9 million signing bonus and $1 million roster bonus.
Now Pro Football Talk is reporting numbers that make more salary cap sense for the Seahawks: three years, $31 million with $12 million for him in 2015 -- all of it guaranteed ($7.5 million in a signing bonus plus $4.5 million in guaranteed base pay for next season). That would carry salary-cap hits for the Seahawks of $7 million this year, $5 million next year (two years of proration on the signing bonus and $2.5 million (one year proration on the signing bonus) for 2017. If Lynch decides to retire after the 2015 season -- entire plausible -- Seattle could absorb $7.5 million in acceleration cap costs in 2016. That is, of course, if these reported contract numbers are accurate and agreed upon.
Lynch's deal that was to expire following the 2015 season carried a cap hit of $8.5 million. So the Seahawks save $1.5 million against the salary cap this year if Lynch signs to the above numbers.
Hey, $12 million guaranteed, a $5 million raise over what he was going to get for next season, with the chance to walk away after that payday? Now that's something that would get him out of Oakland and onto a Southwest jet in early March to visit team headquarters about.
This report goes on to explain how the proposed deal would look if Lynch retires following this last windfall payday and season in 2015.
The News Tribune confirmed the Seahawks have released veteran tight end Zach Miller, who missed most of last season and needed two ankle surgeries, then failed a team physical. He was scheduled to have a cap hit of $3,39 million against the team in 2015, the final year of the 29-year old's $6 million contract. Seattle absorbs $1 million against its cap of $148 million for this year to release Miller, who played in 48 regular-season games over four seasons after Seattle acquired him from Oakland. This move puts Seattle squarely in the market for a tight end either in free agency that begins next or, in the draft that begins April 30 -- or in both.
As for Lynch, a league source confirmed to The News Tribune that as of 2:30 this afternoon he had not formally agreed to anything. But he is believed to be en route from his hometown of Oakland to Seahawks' headquarters in Renton -- which is even more rare in an offseason than him talking to the media during seasons.
Today's news comes after Elisa Hahn of Seattle's KING-5 television sent this that she got from the Oakland Airport, Lynch and a man who looks plenty like his agent Doug Hendrickson spotted on a plane bound for Seattle from Lynch's hometown:
Lynch has been due a $5 million base salary, $2 million in roster bonuses with a $8.5 million cap cost (including a single-year bonus proration of $1.5 million) to the Seahawks in his contract that had 2015 as its final season. The new deal that's been negotiated includes higher bonuses and likely higher guaranteed money with lower base pay for at least next season, to lessen the cap hit against the Seahawks this year and beyond.
This timing for an agreement makes sense -- and would be a favor to the Seahawks. General manager John Schneider said a few weeks ago in Indianapolis at the NFL combine the team had a deadline date by which it needed to know from Lynch whether he wanted to come back to play at the age of 29 next season. Schneider coyly said then that date wasn't for public consumption, but it was likely before the league's free-agency period begins so Seattle knew whether it needed to shop for a new lead running back.
Team can begin negotiating tomorrow with unrestricted free agents and Tuesday is the day the signing market opens. So, if this report is true, the Seahawks appreciate knowing now Lynch's status for 2015 and beyond, instead of having to wait until, say, he shows up or not for training camp in late July.
Lynch's pal and former Seahawks backfield mate Michael Robinson said today on NFL Network he talked to Lynch this afternoon before his meeting at Seahawks headquarters and that Lynch was "confused by people taking pictures and tweeting that he was en route" to Seattle.
"He was in great spirits," Robinson said on the league's television network. "I think it's a great thing that he actually went and that all of Seattle's brass is there. I think Pete Carroll and John Schneider are sending a message to the locker room we understand what you guys are feeling: Marshawn is our heartbeat and we're going to pay him like the heartbeat of our team."
Here's video of Robinson talking about Lynch today. As he said of this new deal, "It still has to get signed."
It never really "is" with Lynch until ... well, it officially is.
Miller, incidentally, and his wife Ashley just had a baby boy last week. But his ankles and age (29 is considered old in this brutal sport) caught up to him with his failed physical that ended his Seahawks career.
They also have twin daughters. Such is the cold business of NFL life -- though Miller did earn almost $25 million in four years with Seattle.
The Seahawks also released DT Jesse Williams, who spent last season on injured reserve, and T Garrett Scott. The team also announced what DT Greg Scruggs posted on Instagram yesterday, that he will be back with Seattle next season.