The Oakland Raiders acknowledged Friday that the team would like to solve Marshawn Lynch's future by the NFL Draft on Thursday.
Oakland Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie on Friday confirmed reports from earlier this week that the team wants to settle whether Marshawn Lynch will play for them in 2017 by the time of the NFL Draft, which begins with the first round on Thursday.
McKenzie and coach Jack Del Rio held their annual pre-draft press conference Friday with McKenzie acknowledging the team hopes to know soon about Lynch.
“At some point, you’d like to know,” McKenzie told reporters. “Prior to the draft is that point. You’d like to know that. Our door is open, and we’re not shutting the door until that time pretty much. Who knows after that? I’m not ever going to say ‘never.’ But the door is still open.”
The door, though, wouldn’t figure to be all that easy to budge after the draft, particularly if the Raiders add a running back and/or do anything that adds to their salary cap to make it that much more difficult to fit in Lynch.
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And while there are other steps that have to be taken — the two teams need to work out a trade once Lynch signs and he has to apply for reinstatement off the reserve/retired list — it’s becoming clear that the biggest holdup is the negotiations between Lynch and the Raiders.
A week ago, there was one report that Lynch had “signed” with the Raiders, and when that was proven to be premature, other reports said that at least the two sides were close.
But indications since then are that the two sides may be further apart than had been believed.
Lynch was due to make $9 million in the next season of his last Seattle contract — which would be 2017 if he returned. The Raiders apparently don’t want to pay anywhere close to that so the two sides are trying to work out a compromise.
The Raiders want more of an incentive-laden deal given that Lynch turns 31 on Saturday, hasn’t played in a year and played just seven games due to injury in his last season with the Seahawks in 2015. Indications are that Lynch, if he doesn’t want the full $9 million may want closer to that than might have been expected.
If the Raiders and Lynch work out their own deal, then it is expected Seattle and Oakland would quickly agree on the terms of a trade, with Seattle likely getting a late-round draft pick of some sort in 2017 in return (McKenzie and Seahawks GM John Schneider are close friends and Schneider has publicly said he would expect a transaction to go smoothly).
One other option is for Seattle to release Lynch and let him become a free agent. But if the Seahawks do that then they can ask for Lynch to repay $2.5 million of the $7.5 million signing bonus he received in 2015 (Seattle cannot ask for repayment of the bonus if he is traded, with a draft pick or whatever else the team would receive serving as obvious compensation instead).
Lynch, though, apparently wants no part of paying back the bonus, and also likely would ask for the Raiders to cover some or all of it, which Oakland doesn’t want to do. Hence, a restructured deal and then a trade is the desired outcome for all parties (the Seahawks would rather get an extra pick than the bonus money).
If anything has happened on the Lynch/Raiders front this week, it has apparently occurred without any in-person input from Lynch, who has been in Haiti accompanying Seahawk defensive ends Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett on an Avril-led trip there to build schools.
What remains not an option is for Lynch to return to the Seahawks. Lynch’s desire to come out of retirement is so that he can play at least a season in his hometown, and there is also no way the Seahawks would be able to take on his $9 million salary and cap hit in 2017.
If the answers are taking longer than expected, there also appears to now be a pretty definite end date to this saga.