Lynch has given Seahawks more than what they paid for

dave.boling@thenewstribune.comJune 15, 2014 

Seahawks fans and national media continue to play the What’s Marshawn Thinking? game.

So far, everyone is tied with zero correct answers.

The debate these days is over the significance of dominant running back Marshawn Lynch not showing up for recent voluntary team activities and what will be the consequences if he is absent from this week’s mandatory minicamp.

The range of speculation extends from A) he’ll show up and be the same off-beat but competitively beastly back he has been, to B) he’ll retire from the game and disappear in a quest for the privacy he seems to desire — except when compelled to endorse a plumbing company by being filmed with a commode in his arms.

Some suggest a possible trade.

The most drastic scenario in the eyes of fans would be that he never plays again for the Seahawks. And if that happens, my suggestion is this: Your team is going to be fine. They’ve been preparing for the possibility.

In the big picture, they’ve gotten more than their investment in him already.

Lynch cost them a fourth-round draft pick and a fifth-round pick to get him from Buffalo. In his first partial season (2010), he immediately changed the level of toughness and effort for the team.

And in the playoffs that season, he created a franchise phenomenon with his run against the Saints that led them to an improbable postseason victory.

The past three seasons, he has rushed for more than 1,200 yards in each and scored a total of 46 touchdowns in the regular season and postseason.

He has been absolutely crucial to the team’s success. And he’s being paid the salary of a Top 5 back.

Even disregarding Lynch’s spotty attendance, the Hawks knew he’s aging (28) and would have to be replaced at or near the end of his contract. They drafted Robert Turbin in the fourth round in 2012 and Christine Michael in the second round in 2013.

It’s unrealistic to think either of these guys could just step in and perform like Lynch.

But the degree to which Lynch’s absence would be felt by the offense would be at least partially mitigated by the addition of a healthy Percy Harvin in a full-time capacity.

While coach Pete Carroll laudably celebrates players’ interest in being individuals, he also endorses the “I’m In” signs all over the headquarters that remind players the importance of a collaborative work ethic.

Lynch’s not showing up for organized team activities (OTAs), and possibly minicamp, seems counter to the “I’m In” spirit.

From Lynch’s perspective, he knows that running backs depreciate toward 30. And his unrelenting running style makes him even more at risk. He agreed to the contract two years ago. The Seahawks have met their part of the bargain, and so has he, never altering his bruising style as some backs do once the contract is signed.

While Lynch has been powering the Seahawks, I’d argue that they also have helped his career by giving him a fresh start when things had gone stale in Buffalo. I don’t believe Lynch could have gone anywhere else in the league and been given such free rein to be himself and operate in such a run-oriented scheme.

It would cost him money to just walk away. But it seems that he might take some joy in doing the unexpected and dictating his own terms.

It’s fair to say, though, that if he’s trying to force the Hawks to redo his contract, then he might have to change one of his mottos. He said during the postseason that he’s “... all about the action, boss.”

The action is on the field, and the action is preparing to defend the Super Bowl title. Being a no-show or a holdout is, really, all about the money, boss.

The best understanding and most rational opinion on the matter came from veteran center Max Unger, who just happened to be one of the players available for interview when Lynch’s situation was the topic of the day last week.

“The guy has done more than prove that he’s capable of coming to training camp in shape,” Unger said. “As long as he does his thing on Sunday, I’ve got no problem with him at all.”

Lynch generally can be counted on to do “his thing.” He has been money well spent, regardless what happens this week.

Dave Boling: 253-597-8440 dave.boling@thenewstribune.com

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