The Seahawks have so many reasons to thank Marshawn Lynch.
Not just for his signature “Beast Quake” runs. Not only for his unique excellence as the foundation for the greatest string of seasons in franchise history.
The last great accomplishment Marshawn Lynch gave the Seahawks wasn’t his injury-riddled 2015 season. It wasn’t his 20 yards on six carries last month when he returned to play after two months out injured — only to become a bystander as Seattle fell behind 31-0 in the first half of the playoff loss at Carolina.
The final, best thing Lynch did for the Seahawks was retiring when he did.
The totally Lynch-ian how of his retirement continued getting the attention Monday. His declaration came without words. Of course. He tweeted during Sunday night’s Super Bowl 50 a picture of his neon-green football cleats hanging on a wire with an illustration of a hand in the shape of a peace sign — and nothing else.
Quintessential Lynch. The 29-year-old star running back went out his way. With no elaboration.
Lynch’s agent, Doug Hendrickson, confirmed to The Associated Press on Monday what The News Tribune learned from league sources late Sunday, that the Seahawks had understood Lynch indeed intends to retire. The agent tweeted his congratulations/goodbye Monday afternoon: “These past 9 years working for you has been a journey i will cherish and never forget. You are the greatest bro. @MoneyLynch #HOF”
But Lynch’s exit from the Seahawks was never a matter of “if” this offseason.
The “when” is what will benefit them.
Lynch letting the Seahawks know his intentions now is the best parting gift he could have given his now-former team. For the first time in three offseasons, after previous springs and summers of him contemplating retirement and seeking more money up front, the Seahawks know Lynch’s status with them.
And it’s still two weeks before the league’s scouting combine begins and a month before free agency and the league’s fiscal year starts March 9.
From owner Paul Allen’s tweet of appreciation to Lynch on Sunday night through Monday’s tribune video the Seahawks’ digital staff produced and sent out on Twitter with the hashtag “#ThankYouBeastMode,” the team left no ambiguity in its appreciation.
This is the best-case scenario for general manager John Schneider, coach Pete Carroll, and their scouting and player-personnel staffs. They had hoped Lynch would inform them of his plans before the combine, so the Seahawks knew prior to the league’s offseason shopping market opening how urgent their need was to add a running back behind heir Thomas Rawls. Lynch retiring also saves the Seahawks from having to endure the bad optics and potential locker-room chemistry issue of releasing the popular Lynch this spring because of his scheduled $11.5 million salary-cap charge for next season.
Now they know. The Seahawks will be saving $6.5 million against their salary cap for 2106 with Lynch retiring. They can budget ways to use that money much sooner than they thought they’d be able to.
Seattle certainly won’t keep Fred Jackson, Lynch’s buddy from Buffalo. The veteran running back turns 35 this month and becomes a free agent next month. Carroll said last month the team would like to bring back Christine Michael. Seattle’s former second-round draft choice is a restricted free agent after impressing late this past season in his second go-round with the team.
But now that they know Lynch won’t be back, the Seahawks can aggressively pursue veteran and prospect tailbacks to compete with or become a better option than Michael as Rawls’ backup. Lynch playing in just seven regular-season games this past season to precipitously fall off the NFL’s elite shelf was a reminder of the importance to Seattle of having two backs capable of leading Carroll’s running game.
So ends Lynch’s nine-year career, and a brilliant 5 1/2-season Seattle romp like none other. He gained 6,347 of his 9,112 yards rushing and 7,656 of his 11,091 career yards from scrimmage for Seattle after a trade with Buffalo early in the 2010 season — Carroll’s and Schneider’s first running the franchise. He scored 65 of his 83 career touchdowns for the Seahawks. He made four of his five Pro Bowls and became an All-Pro in 2012 with Seattle.
He is fourth in franchise history in yards rushing and attempts (1,457), behind Shaun Alexander, Curt Warner and Chris Warren in both categories. Alexander played eight seasons with the Seahawks, Warner seven injury-marred ones and Warren eight. Lynch played the equivalent of five full seasons with the franchise.
Lynch ranks second in team history in rushing touchdowns (57), third in total TDs (65) and seventh in points scored (392). But because he did what Alexander, Warner, Warren and everyone else had not — lead the Seahawks to a Super Bowl title — Lynch’s legacy will be as the franchise’s best back ever.
Beyond all the numbers was the way he accumulated them: the bulldozing plows through defenders who often fell off him like they’d just run face-first into a light pole.
The Beast Quake run against the Saints. His similar run through Arizona Cardinals in December 2014. The crotch grab and backwards plunges across the goal line to punctuate those and other scores. The lack of need for the media or comments to it after or between games. Returning from abdominal surgery and practicing as the lead back all week early last month, then telling the Seahawks minutes before they got on their bus he wasn’t fit to play in the wild card game at frigid Minnesota — and deciding that wouldn’t be making the trip, either. The commercials — “Quit freakin’, call Beacon” and “Bruh, I’ve been here the whole time” among the most memorable.
All that and more combined to create a persona — and a career — the Seahawks won’t be seeing again anytime soon.
Neither will the sport.
Gregg Bell: @gbellseattle