Pete Carroll says he believes Marshawn Lynch wants to return to the Seahawks for the 2015 and that the team has been negotiating for months with the 29-year-old running back's representatives on a new contract.
Carroll, the final coach or general manager to speak at the NFL scouting combine, also said he will never get over the way Seattle lost this month's Super Bowl to New England on its final offensive play from the 1-yard line, that Pro Bowl strong safety Kam Chancellor doesn't need knee surgery and should be ready for the preseason, after all, that tight end Zach Miller should be ready for training camp after two extensive ankle surgeries -- and that recently promoted Kris Richard will call the defense's plays as the new coordinator while retaining responsibility for defensive backs, as the team seeks to hire "a couple" more defensive assistants.
But the most pressing Seahawks issue is the status of their 1,600-yard back with a league-best 19 total touchdowns this past season.
Carroll believes Lynch is coming back, not retiring as general manager John Schneider has raised as a you-never-know-with-him possibility the last two weeks.
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On the podium in front of cameras on the third day of the combine at Lucas Oil Stadium here in Indianapolis, Carroll mentioned how "huge" Lynch remains in the team's plans for 2015. He said that while he nor anyone else in the franchise has talked directly to Lynch since the season ended three weeks ago "we have been in earnest --for long time now--negotiations to being him back.
"We've had big offers out there. ... We are excited about the future. He's been an integral part of our program for five years."
Off the podium, looking tanned from a trip to his vacation home in Hawai'i and casually leaning against a wall of a stadium suite-holder lounge, Carroll said: "I cherish the style of play that Marshawn has always stood for. We've been doing extensive work in negotiating.I really think he wants to come back with us and play for us."
I asked him if he could see any realistic scenario in which Lynch would not be Seattle's featured back again in 2015.
"Only if he doesn't want to play," Carroll said. "Because we've done everything we can do. We've made significant strides in our work; this has been going on for a long time -- well before any of you guys knew it we've been working hard at this and making sure that we were preparing for the future with him. We've never thought of the future without him.
"Hopefully that will work out and we can make that happen again."
I followed up asking what I had asked Schneider Thursday, if Lynch had given the coach any indication he would not be back.
"We haven't had direct contact with him about what's going on right now," Carroll said. "We'll find that out here soon."
And soonest the best. The Seahawks want to know before NFL free agency begins March 10 if they need to sign a featured running back.
All this last two weeks have been amounts to the Seahawks asking Lynch to be definitive on his future now instead of breaking off contact as he does each offseason, blowing off minicamps and then showing up at training camp in late July -- or later, as with last summer's eight-day contract holdout. Only then has the team been certain Lynch is returning to play that season.
My sense is growing that Lynch will soon have a new contract with more guarantees and lower base salaries to lower his $8.5 million salary-cap number currently scheduled for this year ($5 million base pay, $2 million in bonuses for games on the active roster, $1.5 million in so-called "dead money," accounting from previous bonuses). The Seahawks just want a yay or nay from Lynch now, so in case it is unexpectedly "nay" they can begin shopping.