RENTON — OK, never mind.
Marshawn Lynch didn’t hold out. Despite all the media reports and passionate debate, Beast Mode showed up for the first day of the Seahawks’ mandatory three-day minicamp. A few minutes into the practice Tuesday afternoon, he walked onto the field alongside Sidney Rice. He wore his finest hooded sweatshirt. Then he stood and watched for almost two hours, resting a sore ankle, according to coach Pete Carroll. Lynch, scheduled to make $5.5 million this season, still isn’t satisfied about his contract, but he’s not going to act out — for now.
“Yeah, it was a big story,” Carroll joked. “We expected him to be here, and he’s here, you know?”
Of course, Carroll, who resides at the corner of Sunshine and Rainbow, would dismiss it all. But he knows the threat was real. Lynch’s camp leaked news of his discontent last week to get the Seahawks’ attention, and it worked to an extent. It won’t immediately result in a pay raise, but it’s clear that the two sides have had some frank discussions recently. For Lynch, who is known for being wise with his money, the open line of communication was enough for him to ditch the holdout idea and avoid a $70,000 fine.
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It seems safe to stop freaking out. Stop lying in the corner in the fetal position. Everything is going to be all right.
There’s always the Marshawn Lynch Unpredictability Factor. You never know what he’ll do next. But Lynch’s appearance at minicamp indicates how much he wants to be here, and it’s a show of faith that he believes the franchise will do right by him. Instead of resorting to a confrontation, the two sides are engaging in a negotiation, or at least a serious conversation about a negotiation. As long as the Seahawks are open and honest with Lynch, as long as they’re actively seeking a resolution to his contract concerns, they should be able to skirt a major Beast Mode controversy.
As I wrote last week, this story is still a sign that the rugged running back is nearing the end of his Seahawks tenure. And when it’s over for Lynch in Seattle, it will be complicated and frustrating and sad.
But this isn’t his time.
He’s definitely capable of another elite season. I’m willing to bet he can play two more years at his current level. So much of this situation is about Lynch trying to get the money he deserves before the Seahawks mercilessly let him go. That’s the harsh reality of the NFL; if a franchise wants to sustain success, it must look at its players as transient assets. But while you understand Beast Mode won’t last forever, the notion of when to break ties is more fluid than has been depicted.
More than any other Seahawk approaching age 30 — which is when running backs spontaneously combust, I suppose — the 28-year-old Lynch controls his destiny. If he stays healthy this season and performs like he has the past 2½ years, the Seahawks will likely disregard his $9 million cap number in 2015 and pay him the $7.5 million he is due in the final year of his contract. Or they will re-do his deal, make it more salary-cap friendly and guarantee him more than the $7.5 million he would make in that last year. Sometimes, in NFL business, it’s better for the team to rework a contract and delay the moment of truth.
Most every NFL contract has a moment a truth, a year in which both parties know that player will never see that money. Lynch is about to enter the third year of his four-year, $30 million pact, and his contract isn’t laid out in such a deceiving manner. If he continues to perform, he could see most every penny of his deal, which is rare.
Several media outlets have intimated that Lynch’s demands aren’t ridiculous. Exact numbers haven’t been thrown out, but the word is that he just wants a little bump in pay, a small raise. After watching Michael Bennett, Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman all receive new contracts this offseason at the inflated championship rate, Lynch wants some love. It’s about the money, but it’s also about respect. He needs to be reminded of how important he is, and it appears the Seahawks are massaging his shoulders a little behind the scenes.
But it’s hard to imagine them caving to an outright contract demand. And that’s where this situation is still both murky and delicate. Can they keep Lynch happy, or pacify him, without tearing up a contract that is only half complete? You should be optimistic, but you can’t be certain.
All is well once again in the Seahawks’ championship offseason. But Lynch’s status, not to mention his happiness, is pending.
Jerry Brewer: 206-464-2277 or firstname.lastname@example.org.