For one, Beast Mode actually has to want to come out of retirement, and by all indications, he’s willing to do it if he can play for his hometown Raiders. According to Pro Football Talk, there’s a ‘very good chance,’ that Lynch unretires at some point before the start of the 2017 season.
Even if Lynch decides to make a return though, landing in Oakland still won’t be easy thanks to two obstacles potentially standing in his way.
If Beast Mode comes out of retirement, he won’t be a free agent because Seattle still owns his rights. The running back has two-years left on an extension he signed with the Seahawks before the 2015 season, which brings us to obstacle No. 1 on the possibility of Lynch landing in Oakland: The Raiders don’t really want to give up anything substantial in a trade.
If the Seahawks don’t release Lynch, then the only way for the Raiders to land him would be in a trade. According to NFL, the problem with that is that the Raiders don’t want to part with anything the Seahawks might want (specifically, draft picks). However, NFL.com did note that the Raiders may be willing to give up a conditional pick late in the draft that could become an earlier pick if Lynch has a big year.
However, so far, a trade doesn’t seem likely. As CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora noted on Friday, the Raiders and Seahawks have had zero trade talks so far.
The other obstacle for the Raiders is Lynch’s pay. If the Raiders can work out a trade for Beast Mode, then they’d be on the hook for his $9 million base salary in 2017, which isn’t an ideal spot to be in for a team that’s saving up money for several big extensions they have coming up. (Lynch is also scheduled to make $7 million in base salary for 2018, plus a $3 million roster bonus that year)
According to NFL.com, the team is hesitant to give Lynch big money because they need to re-sign both Derek Carr and Khalil Mack at some point. The 2017 season will be the final year of Carr’s rookie deal, which means an extension should be coming soon.
One way to avoid both of these obstacles would be for the Seahawks to release Lynch, which he apparently asked for on Thursday. According to the Huffington Post, Lynch was in Seattle this week, where he met with Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider. During the meeting, Lynch reportedly asked the two if they would consider releasing him.
If the Seahawks cut Lynch, then the Raiders don’t have to pull off a trade AND they could sign him for an affordable price.
The big question for the Seahawks is, “Why would we release him without getting anything in return when we know another team wants him?”
If the Seahawks think they can get something -- anything -- in return for Lynch, then they wouldn’t be inclined to cut him.
As for the Raiders, the idea of bringing in an aging running back isn’t as crazy as it sounds. For one, Lynch is actually younger than Adrian Peterson (by 13 months). Adding Lynch could also soften the blow for fans in Oakland if the Raiders end up moving to Las Vegas. There’s also the fact that Lynch should be fresh after taking a year off. Even if he’s lost a step, he should still be useful because half of his game is running people over.
If Lynch can talk the Seahawks into releasing him, it wouldn’t be a shock to see Beast Mode running wild and eating Skittles on the sideline in Oakland next season.
Raiders considering trying to acquire retired RB Marshawn Lynch
The Oakland Raiders are strongly considering the acquisition of retired running back Marshawn Lynch, either through trade or by his release, league sources told ESPN on Friday.
For now, Oakland would have to trade for Lynch because his NFL rights remain the property of the Seahawks, as he has two years remaining on his contract. Seattle general manager John Schneider and Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie have a longstanding relationship; they worked together in the Packers' front office.
Under terms of his existing contract, Lynch would be in line for a $9 million salary and cap hit in 2017. In 2018, he would be due a base salary of $7 million and could potentially earn an additional $3 million roster bonus.
Seattle could ultimately decide to release Lynch for the sole intent of having him sign with Oakland. In that scenario, Lynch would be free to negotiate a new deal with the Raiders.
"It could really happen," one source familiar with the situation said Friday.
Lynch, who will turn 31 in April, also must decide whether to resume his NFL career. It's an idea he has considered, according to sources. Playing for his hometown team would be an incentive and could influence a decision.
Over the years, sources told ESPN's Adam Caplan, Lynch told people his dream was to play for the Raiders. He has a "Beast Mode" apparel store in Oakland.
The Raiders have interest, and it's not just in Lynch, after Latavius Murray signed with Minnesota during free agency. Free agent Adrian Peterson, who likes the team's playoff potential, also remains a possibility for Oakland, sources told ESPN.
In his nine-year career, Lynch started 114 games and carried the ball 2,144 times for 9,112 yards (4.3 yards per carry) and 74 touchdowns.
Asked last June if he was fine with never playing another down, Lynch said, "Oh yeah, I'm good. I enjoyed my time."
Offensive tackle Russell Okung, Lynch's teammate for six years with the Seahawks, endorsed the idea of a comeback.
"Marshawn is a mastermind," Okung told ESPN's Jim Trotter. "If he has been thinking about this all along, it would be great."
Lynch retired after the 2015 season. "I thought it was way too early," Okung said. "He is one of the best talents I have ever seen. I think he can play as long as he wants to play. There's nobody that's better than him and I'd love to see him back ... in a Chargers uniform."
Okung signed a four-year deal with the Chargers last week.
The 2015 season was a struggle for Lynch. He missed nine regular-season games and one in the playoffs after undergoing surgery associated with a sports abdomen injury on Nov. 25. Lynch had missed just one game the four previous seasons.
Lynch was among the most productive running backs in the league during his time with the Seahawks, who acquired him in a midseason trade with the Buffalo Bills in 2010. During his five seasons in Seattle, Lynch was third in rushing yards (5,774), second in first downs (294) and first in rushing touchdowns. His 51 touchdowns during that span surpassed Peterson's second-place total by six.
Seattle played in the Super Bowl twice, winning once, during Lynch's time there.
Marshawn Lynch yet to request release from 'Hawks
If Marshawn Lynch is going to reciprocate the Raiders' interest and come out of retirement to play for his hometown team, the first step is to convince the Seahawks to relinquish their rights to his services.
Although Lynch is staying in shape and mulling over the idea of playing again, per NFL Network's Mike Garafolo, he remains in a holding pattern.
Appearing on Friday's edition of Up to the Minute Live, Garafolo reported that Lynch visited Seahawks headquarters Thursday but did not request his release.
Lynch did "touch on the possibility" of coming back, Garafolo added, but it has yet to advance beyond last year's dalliance when he started to entertain a similar possibility of playing for Oakland.
If Lynch and the Raiders do get serious, how would they go about gaining his rights?
Whereas future Hall of Famer DeMarcus Ware, for example, was a free agent when he decided to hang up his cleats earlier this week, Lynch retired one season into a two-year, $24 million contract extension signed in March of 2015. If he wants to scratch the itch to play again, he would remain under contract with Seattle.
The Seahawks would be willing to trade the 30-year-old power back for the right price, Garafolo confirmed, but they had no intention of releasing him without compensation when the subject was broached last year.
As NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport noted Friday morning, there is no indication that the Raiders have reached out to the Seahawks about the possibility of acquiring Lynch's rights.
"My understanding is the Raiders do not want to give up a draft pick really for anything," Rapoport explained later Friday on NFL Total Access, "but certainly not for a 30-year-old running back."
General manager Reggie McKenzie is also saving his cap space, Rapoport continued, for the mega contracts soon to come for franchise quarterback Derek Carr and NFL Defensive Player of the Year Khalil Mack.
Until Lynch's hypothetical comeback clears a couple of legitimate hurdles, it might be a tad premature for colorful punter Marquette King to conjure up visions of "Beast Mode" carrying his pads after practice.