Seahawks general manager John Schneider was on the Brock and Salk morning show on Seattle's 710 ESPN radio today talking a lot about Marshawn Lynch.
As he said to us Seahawks beat reporters a couple weeks ago, Schneider reiterated how huge the 1,500-yard, 19-touchdown running back is to the Seahawks' plans for the 2015 season and foreseeable future.
"Obviously, we think he's a hell of a player. We want to have him back. He knows that. His representatives know that," Schneider said today. "He knows that if he's back he's not going to be playing at the same number he's scheduled to make.
"He's a guy that is a heartbeat guy that we'd love to have back."
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That "number" is the $5 million in base salary with a $2 million roster bonus. Including the signing bonus prorated over his current, four-year contract that ends after the 2015 season, Lynch is scheduled to count $8.5 million against the Seahawks' salary cap this coming league year.
The Seahawks are willing to give Lynch an extension beyond this final year with a more cap friendly number -- a raise through new bonuses and lower salary to perhaps approaching $10 million to him for this season and then perhaps near flat salaries with prorated bonuses over the rest of a new deal.
Two rubs here:
The first is how long the Seahawks will want to make any new contract. Lynch turns 29 in April. No one in the league has carried the ball more, or more in a more ferocious style, since 2011. The Seahawks franchise -- albeit under a previous regime -- has lived through the history-proven, off-the-cliff drop in production from running backs above the age of 30 with Shaun Alexander eight years ago. That was after the 2005 NFL MVP signed in 2006 what was at the time the richest deal in league history for a running back.
Lynch will undoubtedly be seeking more than two years in any new deal.
But Schneider today brought up the second potential rub to negotiations this offseason: Does Lynch even want to play anymore?
Could he retire before training camp begins in July?
"Now, whether or not he wants to play next year, I can't answer that. I don't know if he knows at this juncture," Schneider told 710 ESPN.
"I think he needs to find out where he's at. It's hard for these guys. It's a long season. We've played a lot of football (38 games including postseasons) these last two years, and especially the way this guy runs the ball, it's taxing on his body. So he has to reset himself and get in that mind frame of, 'OK, I'm ready to get moving here again and get prepared for another season of this.'"
Schneider didn't raise this possibility so high when we talked to him last month, so presumably something between then and now has made the GM consider the possibility of Lynch retiring this offseason.
The Seahawks are willing to wait for Lynch to make up his mind on that. But the sooner they know what he wants to do, the sooner the team can get Russell Wilson's new contract done, begin taking care of All-Pro middle linebacker Bobby Wagner, will know how much it has to offer unrestricted free agent Byron Maxwell to stay and what it can afford with outside free agents this offseason.
Schneider was asked if the Seahawks would prefer to know as quickly as possible given how Lynch's decision will impact their offseason.
"You would hope, sure. You would hope," he said. "But like I said, this is a taxing thing on these guys. We've played a lot of football the last two years, so it may not happen overnight."
You can listen to the entire interview here below. Schneider also raises the possibility of Russell Wilson accepting something of a "hometown discount" on a new contract to keep the Seahawks winning. The GM and Wilson's agent are already in negotiations on a new deal; his rookie one ends after the 2015 season:
--The Seahawks announced they have promoted Rocky Seto from defensive passing game coordinator to assistant head coach/defense. Seto has been with Carroll since he was Carroll's defensive coordinator at USC in 2009. Seto's background is in coaching the secondary, and that's where he'll likely spend most of his time now that former defensive backs coach Kris Richard is the new defensive coordinator.
Teams often give assistants titles of "assistant head coach" to justify a pay raise, make it more than a lateral move and keep them from being enticed by an "assistant head coach" job with another team.
--Also today, Richard Sherman told USA Today "I'm really confident I'll be fine," and that he doesn't think he will need elbow surgery to fix a torn ligament.
Sherman had renowned orthopedist Dr. James Andrews tell him he could heal the elbow without surgery.