A pair of reports Thursday morning indicate that a trade of Marshawn Lynch to the Raiders may be closer than ever.
Thursday morning brought more clarity to the Marshawn Lynch/unretirement saga.
A report from the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport said Lynch and his agent, Doug Hendrickson, are negotiating a new contract with the Raiders, having been given permission to do so by the Seahawks (as previously reported). Should Lynch and the Raiders agree, he would be traded from Seattle to Oakland.
An ESPN report earlier in the day said Lynch also had begun the process of filing papers to become reinstated off of the reserve/retired list, though the NFL Network notes that Lynch can be traded without having filed those papers. Once traded, he would then have to file to be reinstated to Oakland’s active roster, but the trade can occur first without Lynch being reinstated.
Lynch was placed on the Seahawks’ reserve/retired list in the spring of 2016 after announcing his retirement from the NFL via a Tweet during Super Bowl Sunday. That allowed Seattle to retain the rights of Lynch, who had two years remaining on his contract at the time. Contracts simply pick up where they left off when a player returns.
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Lynch’s deal includes a $9 million salary cap hit for the 2017 season (if he returns this year) and no team was going to want to take that on given that Lynch is now 31 and has not played for a season, necessitating that he work out a restructured contract with Oakland (or presumably any other team) before any trade can take place.
This is a much-cleaner and undoubtedly preferred scenario for the Seahawks, who by trading Lynch can at least get some sort of compensation for him — likely a late-round pick either this year or potentially in 2018 conditional on how Lynch performs — while also not having to worry about releasing one of their most iconic players.
Had Seattle released Lynch so that he could return to play, the Seahawks were also expected to ask him to repay at least $2.5 million of the $7.5 million signing bonus he received when he signed his last contract with the team in the spring of 2015 (and it’s worth noting again that there has never been a thought that a Lynch return to play for the Seahawks is an option, with each side having decided to move on from that relationship, let alone that he would also have to negotiate a new deal with Seattle, which would also not want his $9 million cap hit).
Getting Lynch to return some of his bonus money is a complicated step Seattle would probably have preferred not to undertake but would have felt compelled to do to protect its rights, as much as anything else (Seattle had allowed Lynch to keep all of his bonus on the assumption that he would remain retired). Seattle cannot ask for any of the bonus money back if Lynch is traded, however.
Having Oakland work all of this out ahead of time also avoids any scenario where Lynch and his $9 million cap hit sits on Seattle’s roster for any length of time.
Lynch met with the Raiders last week, a meeting that the Seahawks approved, and it was thought that initial talks about a restructured contract began then. Over the weekend, a Pro Football Talk report indicated that talks between Lynch and the Raiders weren’t going all that smoothly — the Raiders undoubtedly are not going to want to pay Lynch anywhere close to the $12 million he was due over the final two seasons of the Seattle contract he was working under when he retired.
ESPN’s Ed Werder also reported this morning that while Lynch is hoping for play for the Raiders, he could also be interested in teaming with any team where Richard Sherman might be traded.
Werder Tweeted that the “Patriots, Raiders, Packers are among the teams that need both. Whether anyone trades for Richard Sherman remains to be seen.”
That report is a little at odds with the Rapoport report and also comes with the complication that any team other than the Raiders would also want to redo Lynch’s deal — or at least know what he would agree to play for — before trading for him. It also assumes Seattle would want to trade both players in a package.
A solo trade of Lynch to Oakland appears far more likely.
As noted last week, Seattle general manager John Schneider and Oakland general manager Reggie McKenzie have been friends for years, having worked together in Green Bay for almost a decade. That led Schneider to say in an interview on ESPN 710 Seattle that he expected any move of Lynch to Oakland “would go in a smooth manner.”
As of Thursday, it appears that process has taken another step.