RENTON — Marshawn Lynch’s extended summer vacation finally ended early Thursday afternoon.
And while he might not have gotten everything he wanted from his contract holdout, he got enough to finally come back to work after taking an extra seven days off from Seattle’s training camp.
Lynch held out in hopes of potentially getting a new contract to replace or extend — or at least greatly enhance — the four-year, $31 million deal he signed in 2012.
Ultimately, he returned after the team agreed to guarantee $1.5 million for this season that was previously slated as either roster bonuses, incentives, or money he would get in 2015.
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And in the end, each side could claim some manner of victory.
The Seahawks held firm to their stance of not redoing Lynch’s deal or giving him any “new’’ money, having made it clear they did not want to set a precedent of ripping up existing contracts. Lynch, meanwhile, got the assurance of a little more money that he wasn’t necessarily guaranteed to receive in the unpredictable world of the NFL.
Specifically, the team turned $500,000 in per-game roster bonuses and $500,000 in incentives (for rushing for 1,500 yards or more) for this season into guaranteed money, increasing his base salary for the 2014 season from $5 million to $6 million. The Seahawks also took $500,000 he was guaranteed for 2015 and agreed to pay it to him now.
Lynch also may not have to pay almost $500,000 in fines he accumulated during his holdout. Pro Football Talk, which was the first to reveal the financial details that brought Lynch’s holdout to a close, reported that he will not have to pay the fines, though there was some indication Thursday night that was not set in stone.
Regardless of the particulars, the bigger import for the Seahawks is that the team’s leading rusher of the last three years and heart and soul of their offense is now back, and could be available when the team practices Friday.
Lynch was not at practice Thursday, the sixth workout he missed during his holdout.
Lynch is entering the third year of a four-year deal worth up to $31 million. NFL contracts, though, are not guaranteed and there has been speculation that he could be cut after this season. Lynch probably wanted to get some of that money now in case he is released.
News that Lynch had decided to end his holdout broke around noon, just as the Seahawks were wrapping up practice, with both ESPN.com and NFL.com reporting that he was on his way back to Seattle.
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said he didn’t know if Lynch was coming, though he quickly added that if he did “that would be good.’’
An hour or so later, word leaked throughout the team’s training complex that Lynch was on his way, and a little after that came rumblings he was in the building.
He was then spotted by several radio and TV crews when he sneaked out a back door to take a phone call. The team then officially confirmed his return.
After Lynch missed the team’s first practice last Friday, the team placed him on a reserve/did not report list, and the Seahawks will have to cut someone from its 90-man roster to make room for his return.
With Lynch out, Robert Turbin and Christine Michael have been getting the bulk of the work at the tailback spot, earning continual praise for their play.
It’s the presence of Michael and Turbin and that the team is apparently grooming them to take over for Lynch as soon as next season that helped set the wheels in motion for Lynch’s holdout. He turned 28 in April, an age at which NFL running backs often begin to decline.
But while the team seemed confident it could go on without Lynch, there’s also no doubt that the team is better off this season with him.
He has led the team in rushing the past three seasons, averaging almost exactly 300 carries. Last season, he had 1,257 yards on 301 carries and added another 288 yards on 65 carries in the playoffs.
Even though he’s back, don’t expect to see much of Lynch until the regular season. Carroll said in the spring that Lynch was unlikely to get much work in the preseason, saving up any on-field punishment he might receive for the games that count.
Quarterback Russell Wilson echoed Carroll’s comments after practice that he didn’t know if Lynch was for sure returning. A tweeted picture later showed Wilson greeting Lynch as he entered the building.
“We definitely want him on our team, that’s for sure,’’ Wilson had said.
And now he again is.