Tuesday marked the sixth day of running back Marshawn Lynch’s holdout from Seahawks training camp. It also signaled a change in the penalties the team can now levy on Lynch for not having shown up in a dispute over his contract.
Per the rules of the NFL’s collective-bargaining agreement, Lynch can be assessed fines of $30,000 per day for each day he misses.
Beginning Tuesday, the sixth day of camp (the countdown started when players officially reported for camp last Thursday) Lynch can be fined 15 percent of a $1.5 million signing bonus for this year in addition to the daily $30,000 fine.
The bonus is the prorated share of the $6 million bonus he got for signing his four-year contract worth as much as $31 million in 2012.
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Add up the $180,000 for the first six days and the $225,000 for the signing bonus, and that’s at least $405,000 the team can already fine Lynch for holding out.
The team can now fine Lynch 1 percent of that same signing bonus for the next several days, with the total fine capped at 25 percent during training camp. He could be fined an additional 25 percent of the bonus for missing the first regular season game.
Should his holdout last into the season, he would then be subject to being fined one week’s game check for each game he would miss (with Lynch having a base salary of $5 million, that’s $312,500 per game. He is apparently not subject to fines for missing preseason games, however).
All such fines are at the discretion of the team, and usually become part of negotiations — the team can reduce or waive them, for instance, in exchange for the player dropping his holdout.
The fines are in place as an inducement to compel players not to hold out, and there has been some thought around the league that as the potential fines pile up, Lynch might be more willing to relent. Recall that Lynch agreed to talk to the media last year to avoid a $50,000 fine, and showed up to minicamp to avoid a possible fine of almost $70,000.
But as of the end of Tuesday’s practice, there was little evidence that anything had changed in the stance of either party.
General manager John Schneider reiterated in an interview with ESPN, which had a special live telecast of Seattle’s practice Tuesday, what he has said previously — that the team has a carefully mapped out long-term financial plan and doesn’t intend to alter it for Lynch.
“We’ve had a plan in place here for a number of years, and we can’t veer from that plan for one person because it’s the ultimate team sport,” said Schneider, who noted again that Lynch’s 2012 contract was “a big part” of the foundation of that plan.
Carroll said after practice there was nothing new on Lynch, adding that “I love this kid and I hope he will figure it out and it will all make sense and it will come to a resolution somewhere.”
Lynch, who led Seattle with 1,257 yards last season as the team won its first Super Bowl, is said to be seeking more upfront money for this season, knowing that the team may cut him before 2015 when his contract is scheduled to count for $7.5 million against the salary cap. The team could, for instance, guarantee a $500,000 incentive in Lynch’s contract for rushing for 1,500 yards or more.
There have also been rumors of Lynch possibly considering retiring. If Lynch were to sit out this year and then consider coming back in 2015, however, his Seahawks contract would still be in effect, picking up where it left off.
Lynch’s situation is simply the latest example of how contracts in the NFL tend to favor the teams, who can cut players at any time, unlike, say in Major League Baseball, where contracts are typically guaranteed.
Receiver Doug Baldwin alluded to that in a tweet a few days ago, writing “I hate the ‘but you signed the contract’ argument. Players can’t say that (stuff) when organizations cut them.’’
After practice Tuesday, Baldwin said “I think I speak for the majority of the NFL when I tweeted out what I said. … unfortunately, that’s just the way our CBA is set up. That’s the way the contracts are set up that they can cut us at any time but we are not allowed to hold out. That’s why you get fined for it.”
Baldwin, though, said players are able to separate business from what happens on the field.
“When I’m on the field, I’m dealing with football,” he said. “Unfortunately this game is not just a game, it’s a business, so we have to deal with the business aspects of it off the field.”
As for Lynch, Baldwin said he has talked to him regularly during his absence from camp.
“He’s in good spirits,” Baldwin said. “He’s training, making sure he’s ready go to if he gets the opportunity to do so.”