There aren’t many prompts that pry Marshawn Lynch from his Bay Area home into Seahawks headquarters during the offseason. Or for minicamps. Or, heck, for the beginning of training camp, for which he held out last summer.
And in March? He goes there less often than he talks to media members — at least those not from Turkey.
But Lynch had 12 million guaranteed reasons to be in Renton talking to the Seahawks’ leaders on Friday.
That’s where and when the bullish centerpiece to Seattle’s offense officially decided he will be back for the 2015 season after all.
The Seahawks signed Lynch on Friday to a two-year contract extension through the 2017 season. So ends months of negotiations that coach Pete Carroll said began “before you guys even knew.”
The team also announced Friday that it has chosen a second-round tender for restricted free agent Jermaine Kearse worth $2,356,000 in efforts to keep the Lakewood native in a Seahawks uniform.
Kearse can negotiate with other teams, but it’s unlikely they would want to send a high draft pick to Seattle as compensation. The Seahawks also have the option of negotiating a multiyear deal with the wide receiver.
As first reported by NBC’s Pro Football Talk, the Lynch agreement redoes his pay for this year with $5 million more guaranteed than he was previously scheduled to make under a contract that was to expire following the ’15 season.
The four-time Pro Bowl selection and two-time All-Pro will earn $4.5 million in fully guaranteed base salary this year with a $7.5 million signing bonus. The deal is worth $24 million total for the final two new seasons of 2016 and ’17, though it’s conceivable Lynch, who turns 29 next month, may retire before then.
That’s a pretty cool way for the Seahawks to show how much they are supposedly tired of Lynch’s “act,” as unsubstantiated national reports asserted in October. That caused an unnecessary sidebar to Seattle’s second consecutive Super Bowl season.
The Seahawks’ 1,600-yard running back in 2014 also had an NFL-leading 19 total touchdowns last regular season and postseason. Then last month general manager John Schneider had floated the possibility Lynch might retire.
The Seahawks didn’t have a replacement with nearly his credentials or impact on the entire offense at the ready — not backups Robert Turbin or Christine Michael — had they been unable to lure Lynch back. Now, Seattle has another year and one, possibly two drafts to find his eventual successor.
He leads the NFL since 2011 in regular-season rushing yards (5,357), total touchdowns (56) and 100-yard rushing games (24). He is 1,305 yards from becoming the 30th player with 10,000 yards rushing in an NFL career.
The timing of his signing is a favor to the Seahawks. Saturday is the first day every NFL team can begin negotiating with unrestricted free agents. Tuesday is the first day of the free-agency signing period for this year. Now Schneider and his staff know they don’t need to urgently go shopping for a new lead runner for next season.
The new deal carries a salary-cap hit to the Seahawks of $8.5 million this year, the same as his old contract.
The team’s advantages to this contract? Lower cap hits of $5 million next year (two years of the bonus prorated) and $2.5 million (one year of the bonus prorated) for 2017. If Lynch decides to retire after next season, Seattle would absorb in 2016 $7.5 million in total acceleration cap costs.
For that they get the league’s most productive runner over the last four seasons back — infinitely happier and thus likely motivated for next season by the $5 million more guaranteed cash in his baggy pockets.
KEARSE GETS 400 PERCENT RAISE
The team’s second-round tender for restricted free agent Kearse was expected, but the former Lakes High standout still must be happy with a raise of more than 400 percent from his $570,000 base salary in 2014.
The Seahawks could still reach a multiyear agreement with Kearse before the restricted free agency signing period starts Tuesday. The tender is a qualifying, baseline offer to Kearse to keep him in Seattle.
Kearse could negotiate with other teams that could sign him to an offer sheet, but it would now include the prohibitive potential compensation to Seattle of that second-round pick. The Seahawks would get seven days to match the offer. Even Kearse didn’t expect that to happen when he spoke positively last month about likely remaining a Seahawk.
This procedural move likely won’t keep Seattle from shopping for a bigger wide receiver this spring in free agency or in the draft that begins April 30.
TE MILLER RELEASED
The Seahawks terminated the contract of 29-year-old tight end Zach Miller. He missed all but three games last season, needed two ankle surgeries, then failed a team physical. He was scheduled to have a cap hit of $3.39 million in 2015, the final year of his $6 million contract. Seattle absorbs $1 million against its cap of $148 million for this year by releasing Miller. He played in 48 regular-season games over four seasons after Seattle acquired him from Oakland. Seattle is now squarely in the market for a tight end.
Chicago’s trade Friday of WR Brandon Marshall to the Jets, pending Marshall passing a physical, increases the likelihood New York will not have Percy Harvin on its roster by March 19. That’s the day by which if Harvin is still a Jet, New York owes Seattle a fourth-round draft choice from their October trade. If Harvin is not on New York’s roster by March 19, the Jets owe the Seahawks a sixth-round pick. … The Seahawks waived DT Jesse Williams and T Garrett Scott. They announced a new, one-year contract for DT Greg Scruggs.