John Schneider’s relationship with an old friend may help the Seahawks find a way out of the Marshawn Lynch saga.
Seattle’s general manager and his counterpart with the Raiders are working on a trade of the retired running back to his hometown team, so Lynch can end his retirement and play for Oakland in 2017. That is according to multiple national reports on Thursday, the first one from the league-owned NFL Network.
The trade reportedly is contingent upon the Raiders and their general manager, Reggie McKenzie, reaching an agreement with Lynch on a new contract.
A trade with Oakland would wipe from the Seahawks’ salary cap Lynch’s $9 million charge for this year should he play after one year away from football.
Last week, Lynch was inside the Raiders team facility in Alameda, California.
It’s apparent he was talking to Raiders officials, perhaps McKenzie, about parameters on a new contract, as well as what role coach Jack Del Rio envisions for Lynch.
The fact a trade reportedly is in the works recalls what Schneider said this month about his friendship with McKenzie, from their time working together in the Green Bay Packers front office. Schneider said that meant any discussions between the Seahawks and Raiders about Lynch likely would go “smoothly.”
“Yeah, I have a great relationship with Reggie McKenzie, who is the general manager of the Raiders. I shared an office with him for, probably, eight years,” Schneider told KIRO-AM, the Seahawks’ flagship station.
They must be super pals, because McKenzie assuredly would be doing Schneider a favor.
This NBA-style sign-and-trade deal would save the Seahawks from having to release Lynch, a cornerstone of their Super Bowl teams, with him still technically owing Seattle signing-bonus cash of $2.5 million. A trade would keep the Seahawks, Lynch’s team from 2010 through the 2015 season, from having to decide whether to press the running back on principle to repay the money.
The Seahawks’ return in any trade of Lynch is likely to be minimal — perhaps a conditional, late-round draft pick from Oakland. That would depend on how Lynch, who turns 31 next week, performs for the Raiders this fall.
He hasn’t played a full season since 2014, and NFL history is full of running backs whose production cliff-dives past age 30. Any contract that Lynch and his agent, Doug Hendrickson, work out with the Raiders is likely to be full of incentive bonuses.
Yet it’s a coup for the Seahawks that Schneider could get anything more than a bag of kicking tees for Lynch. Oakland could ignore Seattle’s trade ideas and simply wait for the league to act on a request for reinstatement from Lynch, if he truly wants to play in 2017. That would put Lynch’s $9 million charge for this year, from his existing contract that he signed two years ago, onto the Seahawks’ cap.
Ed Werder of ESPN reported Thursday, citing a source, that “Marshawn Lynch has begun NFL reinstatement process” in hopes of playing for Oakland.
If Lynch indeed applies for reinstatement, the Seahawks would be forced to release him to keep his 2017 salary off its books. Seattle has zero interest or ability to apply Lynch’s contract to its cap this year. As the team’s signing last month of free-agent running back Eddie Lacy underlined, the Seahawks have moved on from “Beast Mode” to “Past-Tense Mode.”
NFL rules stipulate that if a team trades a player on its reserve/retired list, as Lynch is on Seattle’s, he will be assigned to the same category on the acquiring team’s reserve list. Lynch still would need to apply to the league for reinstatement from what then would be Oakland’s reserve/retired list to the Raiders’ active list to play in 2017.
So in that regard, nothing has changed between Wednesday and Thursday’s news. Lynch must apply to the league for reinstatement before any of this can happen.
Seattle has retained Lynch’s contract rights while he’s been on its reserve/retired list through 2017 under the contract extension he signed before the 2015 season. That deal included a $7.5 million signing bonus. Lynch would be, according to the letter of the league’s collective bargaining agreement, subject to paying back to the Seahawks the 2016 proration on that signing bonus. That is $2.5 million for the season he was retired.
The sign part of this sign-and-trade deal would benefit Oakland because it could get Lynch at a low-risk, short-term deal much more to the Raiders’ liking than the contract with Seattle that he still is technically under for 2017.
A deal would thrill a former Seattle teammate of Lynch.
Linebacker Bruce Irvin, who signed with Oakland last year as a free agent, tweeted Thursday a video clip of Lynch dancing on the sidelines in his full Seahawks uniform, plus the words “Moooddddd. Yes lawd”
There are still hurdles to clear. And, as always with Lynch, no one really knows what’s going to happen next. Even Hendrickson, his agent, said that recently.
However, Thursday brought a blueprint of how the Seahawks are likely to move on smoothly, to use Schneider’s apt word, without Lynch while letting him “unretire” in Oakland.
Gregg Bell: @gbellseattle
“BEAST MODE’S” WAY OUT OF SEATTLE AND BACK TO NFL
Marshawn Lynch must take these steps before he can play for his hometown team in 2017:
Apply for and receive reinstatement from the league off the reserve/retired list.
Work out a new contract with Oakland.
Ensure a trade between the Seahawks and Raiders.