Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch is leaning towards retiring, GM John Schneider said in interviews Friday on ESPN 710 Seattle and KJR-AM 950.
The question about running back Marshawn Lynch’s future with the Seattle Seahawks might be one he answers himself, according to general manager John Schneider.
Schneider said of Lynch during a morning appearance on ESPN 710: “I’m under the impression he is leaning towards retirement.’’
That came after Schneider had said the Seahawks “are going to treat him with as much respect as we possibly can here and give him a little leeway to kind of find his way in terms of what he wants to do.’’
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Later in the day, appearing on KJR-AM, Schneider softened his stance, saying, “I really, honestly don’t know at this point. If you put a gun to my head I would say he is leaning towards retiring. But with Marshawn you never really know.”
Lynch has considered retiring in each of the past two offseasons, so it’s not a surprise that he would be considering it again, especially after 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 and playing in just seven overall.
Lynch’s future has been the subject of much debate for some time. The team could save $6.5 million against the 2016 salary cap by releasing him, and the Seahawks have a younger, cheaper alternative in Thomas Rawls. If Lynch were to retire rather than be released, it would not necessarily change anything in terms of the salary cap. However, Pro Football Talk reported Friday that the Seahawks could ask Lynch to repay $5 million in signing-bonus money he has received. If that were to happen, that could give the Seahawks some salary-cap relief, but likely not until the 2017 season.
On his KJR appearance, Schneider said if Lynch continues playing the Seahawks would have to restructure his contract, which runs through the 2017 season. (A team spokesman said Schneider would not be available for other interviews on Friday.) After initially considering retiring following the 2014 season, Lynch signed an extension last March that paid him $12 million in 2015.
“If he were to come back and want to play, sure we would have to adjust some things,” Schneider said. “At this point it is so early that we are not in that train of thought yet.”
However, Schneider also indicated that the team is prepared to move on without Lynch, saying: “Really, quite frankly, I think that we know that we feel like he is leaning towards retirement. We feel like we are ready to move forward. 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. So if he decides to play we are going to have some things to discuss in terms of our salary cap and our situation. .. But at this point it’s still too early to decide.”
Schneider said the Seahawks hope to have Lynch’s situation sorted out by the NFL combine, which is Feb. 23-29.
Lynch finished the regular season with 417 yards on 111 carries in seven games, averaging 3.8 per attempt, all lows for his career in Seattle. He had 20 yards on six carries in Sunday’s 31-24 divisional playoff loss at Carolina after missing the wild-card playoff win over Minnesota.
Schneider also said he expects tight end Jimmy Graham back in 2016 and said of Graham on ESPN 710 Seattle: “I think people were a little hard on Jimmy. He started going when our offense started going, so I look at it as just part of our maturation offensively. … I don’t look at it like he wasn’t the Jimmy Graham of old. You are talking about a guy who gets double (teamed) and bracketed all the time. When you try forcing an offense, you try developing your offense around one person, that’s where you run into trouble. I understand why people would say ‘why didn’t he come in here and just take the team to another level early on?’ But I think the whole offensive unit, we were just trying to find our way early on.”
Schneider reiterated the comment on Graham on KJR.
Schneider otherwise largely stayed away from specifics about the futures of players.
Asked about safety Kam Chancellor, Schneider referred to the puzzle of the team’s roster and said, “There will be stuff that’s going to come up all throughout the offseason.’’ Chancellor held out during training camp and the first two games of the regular season.
As for the overall offseason, Schneider noted the team has 17 unrestricted free agents and said he is “excited for the challenge of keeping this really cool puzzle together. … We are going to attack it the way we always have. Not going to go crazy in one area and panic just because we think we are struggling there. We are going to be smart, going to be aggressive.’’
Schneider said the goal will be to improve the roster from top to bottom.
“We don’t talk about 53 (the 53-man game-day roster), we talk about 80,’’ he said. The goal is to have a great roster from top to bottom “so it’s incredibly hard for the coaches to make decisions.
“Two years ago at our 80 when we got to 53, we had 21 players that we let go who played for other teams that season. That’s when other teams are chasing you. That’s when you now you have a darn good roster. That’s what we have to get back to.’’
Schneider said he also feels the Seahawks should still be playing. Answering a question about whether they underacheived this season, he said: “I guess I look at it like it’s a team that’s been to two Super Bowls in a row and five playoff appearances in six years. So our expectations are very high. So yeah, I would say to a certain extent (the team did underachieve).”
On KJR, Schneider also said that the offensive line would be a priority in the off-season but also said that would likely be true of 30 other teams, and added that “we are never going to pass on a really good football player based on need, especially in the draft.”