An ESPN report Sunday that Marshawn Lynch has told people close to him he plans to retire is adding to what was already pretty hot speculation that the Seattle running back may soon hang it up.

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During his highlight-filled time with the Seahawks, Marshawn Lynch has become almost as well-known for his reticence to speak with reporters as he was for running over defenders.

So maybe it was fitting Sunday night when the star running back appeared to announce his retirement with a wordless tweet during the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl.

Lynch simply tweeted a photo of cleats dangling over a wire and a “peace out’’ emoji, appearing to signify he is hanging them up after nine years in the NFL, the past six with the Seahawks. He is a five-time Pro Bowl and one-time All-Pro selection, and he was the offensive leader during the Seahawks’ Super Bowl-winning 2013 season.

Lynch’s tweet was followed a few minutes later by a tweet from Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman that appeared to offer further confirmation: “Salute to my guy @MoneyLynch … It was an honor sharing the field with you.”

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Another teammate, linebacker Bruce Irvin, also tweeted: “lol only beastmode would announce it like that! Man it was a great run one of the best teammates I ever had!”

There was no immediate indication that an official announcement was imminent, though, and Lynch is notoriously unpredictable.
One league source said Sunday morning that the Seahawks have not been informed of any decision by Lynch.

Lynch, though, has been known to be considering retiring for a while.

And ESPN gave further fuel to the Lynch retirement talk with a story Sunday morning. Adam Schefter reported that Lynch “has told people close to him he plans to retire, according to league sources.” Schefter reported that teammates have tried to talk Lynch out of retiring, but he has been expected by those close to him to hang it up.

Last month, Seahawks general manager John Schneider said in a radio interview: “Really, quite frankly, I think that we know that we feel like he is leaning towards retirement.”

Schneider indicated then that the Seahawks were waiting for Lynch to make a decision and announcement on his own terms.

“We feel like we are ready to move forward,” Schneider said in an interview on KJR-AM 950 (he also expressed similar sentiments in an interview on ESPN 710 Seattle).”Moving on kind of seems like, ‘OK we are just passing this guy off to the side.’ We recognize what he has done for the organization. So again, we are going to try to handle it as properly as we can, so we want to make sure that he is in the right frame of mind and he’s making the correct decision for himself.”

If Lynch retires, the Seahawks would not have to make a decision on his future. Most observers believed the Seahawks would release Lynch if he did not retire. The Seahawks would save $6.5 million against the salary cap by cutting him. There is no difference in the salary-cap figure if he retires or is released.

He has considered retiring in each of the past two offseasons, and 2015 was his most trying season as a Seahawk.

Lynch, who turns 30 in April, is coming off the first season of his career in which he had significant injuries, missing the last seven games of the regular season after undergoing abdominal/sports-hernia surgery. He played in just seven regular-season games.

The Seahawks also have a cheaper and proven alternative in Thomas Rawls. As a rookie he rushed for 830 yards in 13 games in 2015 to lead the Seahawks before suffering a season-ending broken left ankle against Baltimore. Rawls is expected to make a full recovery before the season begins.

As for Lynch, the Seahawks likely would want clarity on his situation by the time NFL free agency begins March 9, if not by the time of the NFL combine in late February. That’s when groundwork for much of the free-agency period and other offseason planning is laid.

Lynch could be liable to pay back as much as $5 million in bonus money if he retires. But the Seahawks are not expected to ask him to do that.

An Oakland, Calif., native who played at the University of California, Lynch was acquired by the Seahawks in a trade with Buffalo on Oct. 5, 2010.

He moved into the starting lineup after his first week and helped power an offense that led the Seahawks to five postseason berths in his six seasons, and two Super Bowls.

If his career is over he would finish as the Seahawks’ fourth-leading rusher with 6,347 yards, second in rushing touchdowns with 57 (trailing the 100 by Shaun Alexander) and third in total touchdowns with 65 (behind the 112 of Alexander and 101 by Steve Largent).

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