Since the gun sounded on the Seahawks’ playoff loss to Green Bay in January at Lambeau Field, no one involved has ruled out that Marshawn Lynch’s return to the team late in the 2019 season could extend to 2020.
But in the most significant sign yet that Beast Mode really might come back for another year with the Seahawks, Lynch told ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt in an interview Monday night that his agent, Doug Hendrickson, has been in discussions with the team.
“My agent has been in talks with Seattle,” Lynch said in an interview that mostly revolved around non-football topics. “So like I said, we’ll see what happens. If it works out and I get back up there, it is what it is.”
Lynch added, as only he can, that if it doesn’t work out that he’s still “living good” and that he “ain’t really tripping too much” either way.
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said both in his end-of-season news conference and at the NFL combine in February in Indianapolis that the door was not closed on a possible return by Lynch.
“We’ll see,” Carroll said then. “You never know.”
Seahawks general manager John Schneider echoed that thought at the combine saying, “I don’t know that” when asked if he thought the 2019 season was the last for Lynch and that “we’ll see how the offseason goes.”
While the Seahawks weren’t ruling out that Lynch could return in 2020, the general thought had been that maybe he’d be sort of a security blanket and able to be called on again if needed, as he was last year when he returned for the final game of the regular season and the two playoff games after injuries decimated the running-back spot, with Chris Carson, Rashaad Penny and C.J. Prosise all suffering season-ending injuries in December.
But talks at this point might indicate that Lynch would be willing to sign on for an entire season.
Lynch did not play last year until the Seahawks signed him, having gone unsigned when his contract with the Raiders ran out following the 2018 season. Lynch played the 2017 and 2018 seasons in Oakland after spending the 2016 season in retirement following his first stint with Seattle from 2010-15.
Lynch turned 34 last month and at this point wouldn’t likely be expected to be the primary ball carrier if he were to return. Schneider told KJR-AM 950 last week that he expects Carson to be ready for the start of the season after he suffered a fractured hip against Arizona on Dec. 22.
Depth, though, could be an issue, as Schneider told KJR-AM that Penny may not be ready for the start of the season and hinted he could have to go on the PUP (Physically Unable to Perform list) to start training camp.
Penny suffered an ACL injury Dec. 8 against the Rams and Schneider said “it’s going to be really hard for him” to be ready for the start of the season.
Seattle has four other running backs on its roster — second-year player Travis Homer; DeeJay Dallas, a fourth-round pick in last month’s NFL draft; and undrafted rookie free agents Patrick Carr of Houston and Anthony Jones of Florida International.
Carr and Jones were among 12 UDFAs the Seahawks announced Monday as having signed. Seattle on Monday also waived Adam Choice, a running back who spent last year on injured reserve. Those moves put Seattle at the offseason roster maximum of 90, so any additions at this point would require a move to create a roster spot.
Still, the uncertainty over Penny and that Seattle has only two running backs with NFL experience who would appear likely to be ready for the start of the season — Carson and Homer — has fed the idea the Seahawks could still be looking to add to the position.
Lynch gained 34 yards on 12 carries — with 15 yards coming on one run — for an average of 2.8 per attempt in the one regular-season game he played against the 49ers.
He then had 33 yards on 18 carries (1.8 per attempt) in the two playoff games. But he also scored four touchdowns, and had a 20-yard reception in the wild-card-playoff run against the Eagles on a third-and-one play that set up a Seattle touchdown in the third quarter that proved the difference in a 17-9 win.
After a 28-23 loss to the Packers in the divisional round, Lynch quickly answered one quick question about whether he would return saying, “I mean, shoot, we’ll see” before launching into his quickly-famous speech to fellow players advising them to “take care of y’all’s chicken, take care of y’all’s mental.”
He hadn’t been heard from much sense — in traditional interview fashion, anyway — so it was somewhat unclear if Lynch would actually want to keep playing, even if others were speculating that he might.
But his comments Monday night left the door wide open.
Indeed, when asked initially Monday about his future and what he wanted to have happen Lynch said, “Well it’s almost on that ‘expect the unexpected.’ “
When Lynch returned last year, he did so for a contract that paid him the league veteran minimum (he made $60,588 for the regular season plus getting the same playoff shares as everyone else).
He would logically have to take a minimum deal — or close to it — to return this year. The league minimum for a player with 10 or more years experience is $1.045 million.
But Hendrickson, Lynch’s agent, told The Seattle Times in December that Lynch wasn’t returning for the money but because he simply missed football, and that being back with the Seahawks had only reinforced how much he was glad to be back in the game.
“He’s having the time of his life,” Hendrickson said in December, adding that Lynch had told him “he feels like he’s 16 years old.”
That Lynch would return to Seattle caught some off guard, as his initial Seahawks tenure had ended with some rocky moments, notably the controversy over the final offensive play of the Super Bowl loss to the Patriots.
But Carroll couldn’t have sounded more enthusiastic about how Lynch approached his return to the game, both on the field and in how he interacted with younger teammates.
“There’s an energy about him and a juice about him being back here,” Carroll said at the end of Lynch’s first week back. “He’s been such an extraordinary player and character over the years. … I’m thrilled by the way he brought it and learned and studied and worked at it to fit in. It’s only been an addition coming in. I’m fired up for it. Every once in a while, I got to tell you, I’m chuckling about it. There he is. He’s back with us. It’s exciting, and I like it too, just like the fans like it.”
And maybe there really will be one more Beast Mode sighting in Seattle just yet.