Former agent Joel Corry noted that the Seahawks have a number of their free agents they can approach about a contract with Lynch’s future settled.
A day after the Seahawks’ Marshawn Lynch had announced his retirement in a wordless tweet, tributes continued to pour in.
“One of the realist … ’’ Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor tweeted Monday afternoon. “I’m grateful to have met a brother like him. He will definitely be missed!!!’’
Lynch announced his retirement during the Super Bowl on Sunday night with a tweet of cleats hanging over a wire and a “peace out” emoji.
In case that didn’t paint the picture clearly enough, Lynch’s agent, Doug Hendrickson, confirmed Monday that the running back indeed has retired, ending one of the most compelling and unique careers in Seattle sports history.
Lynch, who turns 30 in April, had been dogged by injuries in 2015 and had considered retiring after the previous two offseasons, due in part to the physical toll the sport was taking on his body.
His retirement helps clear up what loomed as one of the Seahawks’ bigger questions entering an offseason that officially began Monday, the first day NFL teams could release players.
The Seahawks were thought to be leaning toward releasing Lynch if he had decided to keep playing. Instead, he made the decision for them by retiring.
They could place Lynch on the reserve/retired list, which means they would hold his rights for the remaining two years of his contract. He signed an extension last March through the 2017 season, which essentially paid him $12 million in 2015.
His retirement means the Seahawks will save $6.5 million against the salary cap in 2016 and $10 million in 2017. They also could ask for Lynch to pay back $5 million in bonus money for the 2016-2017 seasons. But they are not expected to do so (it would not help with the salary cap for 2016). Most observers feel the contract was signed with both sides understanding Lynch likely wouldn’t play past the 2015 season.
Still, as former NFL agent Joel Corry said Monday, “That’s the cap room they needed to presumably re-sign whomever.’’
Corry, who writes about salary-cap issues for CBSSports.com, noted the Seahawks have a number of their free agents they can approach about a contract with Lynch’s future settled.
Among the Seahawks players who will become unrestricted free agents March 9 are left tackle Russell Okung, right guard J.R. Sweezy, linebacker Bruce Irvin, receiver Jermaine Kearse, cornerback Jeremy Lane and defensive tackles Brandon Mebane and Ahtyba Rubin.
Okung and Irvin are likely to receive offers that the Seahawks won’t be able to match, and both are expected to test free agency.
But having some cap room freed up could allow the Seahawks to try to bring back players such as Lane, Sweezy, Kearse, Mebane or Rubin. They don’t figure to command the same kind of salaries on the open market and might be amenable to re-signing before free agency begins.
The Seahawks also could look to extend the contract of receiver Doug Baldwin, who has one year left on his deal, or restructure or extend the contract of defensive tackle Michael Bennett, who has two years remaining on his deal.
The Seahawks also must beef up the running-back spot, officially having just one player at that position under contract for next season in Thomas Rawls.
Rawls is under contract through 2017 and is scheduled to make $525,000 next season.
“They should be jumping for joy to have a guy now playing that spot for the league minimum,’’ Corry said of Rawls, who had 830 yards as a rookie in 2015 before suffering a broken left ankle (he is expected to recover in time for the season). “That’s like a (quarterback) Russell Wilson situation.’’
Wilson played under his rookie contract from 2012-14 before signing a new deal last summer.
The Seahawks also re-signed Christine Michael late in the year after Rawls was injured and with Lynch recovering from abdominal surgery. Michael is a restricted free agent, and coach Pete Carroll said the Seahawks hope to bring him back. They also re-signed Bryce Brown late in the season, but he is an unrestricted free agent. Fullback Derrick Coleman, who also filled in some at tailback late in the year, is a restricted free agent.
Otherwise, the Seahawks have no other fullbacks or tailbacks on their roster.
But with nine draft picks and some more cap space, the Seahawks are expected to bring in a tailback or two to help fill in for Lynch.
But the outpouring of reaction Monday to his retirement announcement, though, made it clear Lynch never really will be replaced.