Marshawn Lynch Reworks Contract with Seahawks

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According to NFL.com, the Seahawks have agreed to modify running back Marshawn Lynch’s contract in return for him ending his holdout and returning to training camp. Per the report the Seahawks have agreed to convert $500,000 in gameday roster bonuses, $500,000 in incentives, and $500,000 in 2015 base salary into Lynch’s 2014 base salary. The new contract will increase Lynch’s 2014 cap charge and cash salary by $1 million.

Though this is not the big raise that Jamaal Charles received from the Kansas City Chiefs, it was likely the best case scenario for Lynch, who had almost no leverage in the situation. Charles had been woefully underpaid and is the centerpiece of the Chiefs offense and projects to be in that role for at least one more season. Lynch has been paid well and is likely going to be phased out of Seattle over the next season.

I’ve said for some time that Lynch holds more importance for the Seahawks early in the season moreso than late in the year and I think this compromise indicates that they feel the same way. The Seahawks have a stable of potential replacements for Lynch, but it often takes time to work such players in to the offense in an ffective manner. Lynch should carry the workload early in the year while everyone else gets their feet wet in the system. Seattle easily could have held firm, continued to fine Lynch and further enforce forfeiture clauses in his contract, but instead they agreed to a slight raise.

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While it is being widely reported (and is technically true) that this deal means no new money for Lynch, from a practical standpoint this is an additional $1 million for the player. The $500,000 incentive was only going to be earned if Lynch ran for 1,500 yards in 2014, something Lynch has only done once in his career. Considering his workload is expected to be reduced the odds of earning that incentive was next to nothing. It is now part of his base pay.  Lynch should still be scheduled to earn $7 million next year at an $8.5 million cap charge, which is not a safe spot for any aging running back to be. Lynch is still a strong candidate for release in 2015 so any money being moved from that season to this one is effectively a raise for him.

So he gained something with the hold out, a fact that may not make many NFL owners and General Managers very happy.

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  • Grown up decisions by realistic grown up players, owners and coaches, that’s the Seahawks all the way. Other owners and GMs may not be happy about it, but what’s new?

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  • GeorgeOfClarence

    It’s not the end of the world but I don’t like the decision. Seahawks already have 116.6 million committed to 2015 with very little fat/cuttable contracts on the roster. The only two veterans that make significant money in 2015 who were not just re-signed are Lynch and Brandon Mebane.

    Next year Russell Wilson is getting an extension. Af the end of this year, the Seahawks have multiple fee agent starters: Avril, Maxwell, KJ Wright, Malcom Smith. If Wilson’s cap number for 2015 becomes something like 14 million, the Seahawks are likely to be right up against the cap without much wiggle room and down four other starters unless the Seahawks cut Lynch and Mebane. By taking Lynch money out of next year and putting it into this year, the Seahawks lose some of the benefit of cutting Lynch after the season.

    There is also a strong possibility Lynch is ineffective for the Seahawks this year. 28 year old running back who just saw his ypc drop and his production go from 1,500 yards to 1,200 yards and you’re going to give him more money? I just don’t like the decision from a medium term cap health situation.

    • Derek

      I agree. I’d have let Lynch sit out the season if he wanted to. This would of had the added bonus of exposing Russell Wilson’s weakness as a QB, and his reliance on the running game to carry the offense, which would have driven down the price of his extension.

    • RegisHawk

      Wilson’s cap number will not be anywhere near 14 million next year, based on the format of the negotiations…

      What will happen is they will extend his contract, pay him a respectable signing bonus and pro-rate that over the duration of the extension and the last year of his rookie deal. What that means is, RW will make the 953k he’s slated to get already, plus ~1/6 of whatever bonus they decide on (based on a 5 year extension). If that’s 18 million, it would work out to a 3 million Salary Cap hit. This is basically what they did with ET, Sherm & Doug.

      Any true Salary Cap effects wouldn’t be seen until the 2016 season, by which point Lynch’s contract will have no bearing.

      As for the others, considering the philosophy of PC/JS, that players always compete, there’s a good chance that 1 of those 4 will not return to the team. Some young up-and-coming player will take their spot, saving them money. No point trying to predict who it will be…nobody saw Sherm coming…or Maxwell…or Lane…or…well, you get the idea…

      • GeorgeOfClarence

        That isn’t necessarily true (and in fact is quite unlikely). Yes, the Seahawks could heavily backload the contract like the 49ers did Kaepernick. However, when you sign a guy to a contract with a 22 million AAV and you make the first year a 3-4 million dollar cap hit, then you are setting yourself up to be locked in cap jail. 49ers are going to lose all pro guard Mike Iupati next year because the Kaepernick 2015 cap number (which is slated to be the highest on the team by 6 million) and Crabtree’s free agency will be touch and go on whether they re-sign.

        While 14 million might be a little high, there is no way the Seahawks are just going to keep Wilson at minimum salary and a 18-20 million prorated bonus. Look at the recent QB extensions. Cutler in 2013 had a 10 million cap hit. Dalton will have a 9 million cap hit. If possible, most teams have been wise enough not to do what you think will happen.

        • RegisHawk

          The 22 million won’t take effect until after the expiration of the current contract. This is the way business is done. RW’s contract goes from 2012-2015; the big base salary doesn’t kick in until the 2016 season, when the extension begins.

          Wilson won’t be kept at minimum salary. He will receive the bonus immediately after signing the extension, so he makes big bucks in 2015 off that, then going forward off base and incentives. See the breakdowns for ET & Sherman on spotrac, you’ll understand how they do it.