Woodson wore the number during his 11 years in Oakland, becoming one of the best defensive backs in the NFL. Woodson retired in 2015, and it appears the franchise had made his number off-limits to other players, until the nine-time Pro Bowler gave his blessing Wednesday.
The Raiders traded their fifth-round pick in next year’s draft to the Seahawks in exchange for Lynch and Seattle’s 2018 sixth-round pick. Lynch made it crystal clear how excited he is to be playing for the Raiders shortly after the deal became official.
“Yes Lawd 12th man I’m thankful but [expletive] just got REAL I had hella fun in Seattle,” Lynch tweeted. “But I’m really from Oakland doe like really really really from Oakland doe… town bizzness breath on me.”
|Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images|
Marshawn Lynch got permission from Charles Woodson to wear No. 24
It took some time but Marshawn Lynch is officially back in the NFL. He'll suit up for the hometown Oakland Raiders in 2017 and he'll wear his familiar No. 24, which is familiar for another reason: Charles Woodson wore the number during his 11 years in Oakland, including when he returned to the team in 2013 after a seven-year stint in Green Bay.
We mention this because before Lynch decided on his old number, he first consulted Woodson.
Details via Lynch's mother, Delisa.
"I asked him, before Marshawn even thought about coming back or anything like, he came to one of our events and I took a picture with him and I said, 'Hey Charles, if Marshawn comes to the Raiders, can he wear that 2-4?'," Delisa Lynch said Wednesday in an interview on 95.7 The Game, via mercurynews.com. "He said, 'Yeah, momma.' So I knew then that he wasn't going to mind."
Marshawn Lynch might not be a good fit for the Raiders’ offense
The marriage between Marshawn Lynch and the Raiders makes sense in virtually every way. Lynch is an Oakland guy, the Raiders needed a running back after letting Latavius Murray walk in free agency, and Lynch playing for his hometown team is a feel-good story the city needs before the team relocates to Las Vegas.
It’s understandable why the Raiders and NFL fans in general are so excited about Lynch in Oakland — from the “Beast Quake,” to his now-trademarked “I’m just here so I won’t get fined” catchphrase, Lynch has become one of the most fun and unpredictable players in the NFL.
Lynch can do it on the field, too. With 9,112 career rushing yards, 83 total touchdowns, and five Pro Bowl selections, he has been one of the most dominant backs of the past decade. But after a yearlong hiatus from football, it’s fair to doubt that Lynch will be the same player he was with the Seahawks.
That’s not to say Lynch can’t succeed with the Raiders, but there are a few questions that need to be answered before the signing lives up to the hype.
Can Marshawn Lynch still play at a high level?
A year off from football can be framed as a plus: By sitting out in 2016, Lynch gave his body a break from taking (and delivering) punishing hits. But it can also mean the running back has some rust to shake off.
Even the great Adrian Peterson showed signs of rust in his MVP and Comeback Player of the Year-winning 2012 season, totaling 100-plus rushing yards just once in the first six weeks of the season before going on a tear throughout the rest of the year. At that time, Peterson — coming off a torn ACL from the previous season — was just 27 years old. Lynch, at age 31, will certainly need to work out some kinks as he re-acclimates to the NFL.
The last time Lynch played was in 2015, when was limited to just seven regular season games due to a pulled hamstring and then a sports hernia.
In his final season in Seattle, he rushed for a career-low 417 yards and three touchdowns on 111 carries. Lynch’s 3.8 yards per carry was the worst it’s been since 2010, sparking questions of whether the back will be able to regain pre-injury form and whether his trademark aggressive style has taken a toll.
Does Lynch fit in with Oakland’s offense?
On paper, adding Lynch would be a major boost for an offense already ripe with talent. With Derek Carr, Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree, Jared Cook, and a great offensive line, all the Raiders are missing is a game-changing running back.
Unfortunately, NFL teams don’t operate like Madden franchises. A player’s potential fit with a team has a lot more to do with scheme than it does with narratives.
In this case, it’s safe to wonder if the Raiders are even looking for a bruiser who can grind out yards between the tackles. Last year, under offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave, Oakland generally operated out of shotgun, even implementing spread concepts. Though Musgrave is no longer with the team, the Raiders’ offseason additions of Cook and deep threat Cordarrelle Patterson suggest the team’s offense could keep some of the concepts Musgrave introduced over the past two years.
Last year, no team in the league ran more plays with four to five receivers on the field than Oakland’s 364 (more than 22 per game). Sharp Football’s personnel grouping frequency chart shows how much Oakland elected to spread the field in the passing game in comparison with the rest of the league.
With Lynch on the roster, the Raiders will now need to make the decision of whether they’ll create a power-run-oriented offense tailored to Lynch’s strengths, or a shotgun-oriented passing attack to accentuate the strengths of the personnel previously on the team.
It’s not a question of whether the Raiders can successfully run a power-run-oriented offense — they did so successfully in 2015. But in 2016, when the offense began to truly focus on Carr and Cooper, Oakland’s offense soared to new heights.
Murray saw his yards per carry remain stagnant from 2015 to 2016, but Oakland’s rushing offense really took off last season, and DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard deserve credit for much of it. The two complementary backs, both of whom primarily took snaps when the Raiders were in shotgun formations, averaged over 5 yards per carry and collectively added 46 receptions on the year.
Lynch will likely only see extensive time in power sets, which, in itself, wouldn’t be a bad thing. But if the Raiders elect to feed him and run an offense that resembles the 2015 version rather than that of last year’s team, there could be some issues.
How can Lynch make the Raiders offense better?
I would be remiss not to mention how Lynch’s addition can make the Raiders a better team. After all, he’s been one of the top backs in the league over the past decade.
Last year’s signature win for Oakland came against the Broncos in Week 9. In that game, Murray rushed for 114 yards and three touchdowns on 20 attempts. On one of those carries, Murray ripped off a 42-yard run right up the gut behind his fullback. It was a simple short-yardage rushing play on third-and-1, but Murray’s explosiveness up the middle changed the momentum of the game. Murray eventually scored on a 1-yard run later in the drive, giving Oakland a 20-7 lead.
If the Raiders give Lynch these responsibilities and ensure that he only handles the workload on early downs and in short-yardage situations, there’s a chance the return of “Beast Mode” could be imminent. But if the Raiders get too carried away with the Lynch hype and try to make him an integral cornerstone of what was an already talented offense, things could go south quickly.