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.
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.