Running back Marshawn Lynch, who gave the Seahawks' slumbering ground game a jump-start, has re-signed with Seattle, reportedly for four years and $31 million.
The man who got the Seahawks’ running game moving again won’t be going anywhere.
Marshawn Lynch has re-signed with Seattle, the team announced Sunday night.
It’s the first significant move for the Seahawks this offseason as they try to sustain the momentum they gained on the ground toward the end of last season. Lynch, 25, rushed for 1,204 yards in 2011, making him the first Seahawk in six years to surpass 1,000 yards rushing in a season. He also scored a touchdown in 11 consecutive games, setting a franchise record.
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The terms of his new contract were not announced, other than the fact that it is a multiyear deal, but a source with knowledge of the deal says it is for four years with a maximum payout of $31 million. More than half of the deal, about $18 million, is said to be guaranteed.
“We are excited to keep Marshawn as a part of what we are building,” general manager John Schneider said in a statement. “This is what we were hoping for when we acquired him from Buffalo.”
Lynch was not available for comment.
The Seahawks traded two draft picks to acquire Lynch, a fourth-round choice in 2011 and a fifth-round pick this year. In less than two seasons as a Seahawk, Lynch has reminded everyone just why he was the No. 12 overall pick in the 2007 draft.
His 67-yard touchdown run in Seattle’s 2011 playoff upset of the New Orleans Saints stands as one the most memorable moments in franchise history. Last season, he rushed for more than 100 yards in six of Seattle’s final nine games.
Lynch rushed for 107 yards in Week 15 against San Francisco, becoming the first player in more than two years to hit triple digits against the 49ers, and he played in the Pro Bowl as an injury replacement.
That strong finish resuscitated a running game that had been a running joke in Seattle. The Seahawks had gone through four offensive-line coaches in three seasons. They had re-signed an MVP running back in Shaun Alexander, replaced him with free agents like Julius Jones and T.J. Duckett and even tried to recycle Edgerrin James.
Despite all that, only Detroit had gone longer without a 1,000-yard rusher entering the 2011 season.
That changed in the second half of 2011, as Lynch began to mesh with the blocking system installed by offensive-line coach Tom Cable and the line showed significant progress, even as injuries knocked out starting tackles Russell Okung and James Carpenter.
While Lynch’s contract was up, he was not expected to become an unrestricted free agent. The Seahawks had the option of affixing the franchise tag to him, which would have entailed a one-year offer of more than $7 million. The tag also would have made Lynch a restricted free agent, giving the Seahawks the right to match any offer sheet signed with another team or receive two first-round draft picks as compensation.
Seattle does have the option of using its franchise tag elsewhere, and defensive end Red Bryant is next in re-signing priority. However, the franchise tag is an expensive route to go at that position, with the one-year tender projected to be more than $10 million.
Middle linebacker David Hawthorne also could become an unrestricted free agent.
Free agency begins on March 13, and Sunday’s agreement with Lynch gives the Seahawks a running start to their offseason moves. Seahawks owner Paul Allen was so excited, he resorted to multiple exclamation points on his Twitter account.
“BeastMode will be back!!” Allen tweeted. “Great news for this young, exciting team & 12thMan.”
Danny O’Neil: 206-464-2364 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @dannyoneil.