Marshawn Lynch will hold out after all

Apparently Marshawn Lynch is going to hold out.

After what seemed on the surface like some kind of reconciliation when Lynch showed up to minicamp was apparently something of a mirage. This isn’t really a surprise, and the lack of guaranteed contracts in the NFL is a well documented issue that causes frequent holdouts.

Marshawn Lynch is a football player, and a very good one, but in June we said this about Lynch:

Running backs have never been valued lower, and perhaps no good team extracts as much value from a running back as the Seahawks do from Lynch. Right now the Seahawks would probably expect to remain fairly run-heavy. They’ve got three backs in place, and Russell Wilson hasn’t signed an extension yet, meaning the team can afford such luxuries as a high paid running back. That will soon change, but the Seahawks plan for success in 2014 probably remained squarely on the legs of Lynch.

It’s entirely possible that Lynch has more leverage right now with the Seahawks, considering his age and importance to their offense, than he would even on today’s open market, let alone two years from now when he’s 30 years old. That assumes good health for Lynch, which is a fool’s assumption for players at any position.

Lynch is at a pretty serious flex point in his career. He’ll probably never have another shot at a contract with substantial guarantees. You may think that Lynch should just play out his damn contract, shut up, and be a good teammate or some other trope that often infects the fan’s narrative in player-team negotiations. You’re asking Lynch to leave millions on the table. If Lynch is able to obtain an extra $3 million, we’re talking about five-percent of his career earnings left on the table.

I’m not here to be the source of a cried river in Lynch’s honor. He’s a wealthy man, and has made enough money to never have to work another day in his life once his NFL career is over. Of course, we’ve seen the athlete-turned-businessman story end in bankruptcy court too many times to think that money management is always enough to keep a player living a lifestyle he’s accustomed to. All too often, more often, we see guys who continue to live that lifestyle without any real income stream.

The point is that Lynch’s chosen career is almost over. It’s been a lucrative one, but it’s almost over. I don’t hate Lynch for holding out any more than I hate the Seahawks for cutting Shaun Alexander is 2008, only two years into an eight year contract. This is a thing that happens. Football isn’t like your job. It’s not like any of your friends’ jobs. If your friends are upset with Lynch, get smarter friends, I can’t be held responsible for the stupidity of your friends.

Even though I understand Lynch’s stance, I also think that the action taken by the Seahawks needs to be a cautious one. In the same June post I said this:

The most ideal scenario would be that Lynch shows up to a later team activity happy, and free of his desire for a new contract. A more likely scenario probably involves a compromise. Anything more than a one-year extension with something of a dummy year on the back-end and some more guaranteed money up front – which could be quite favorable in Lynch’s mind – is probably irresponsible for the Seahawks. I’d expect something like an extension that included a $6 million base salary for an additional year, but with $3 million in signing bonus attached to it.

This is probably something close to what will happen. The Seahawks probably won’t make a huge financial commitment to Lynch, and we shouldn’t want them to. He’s a running back, and one approaching 30. He can be replaced, and eventually as the money shifts, the passing game will overtake the running game as the dominant element of the offense.