The Seahawks aren’t just sitting around the league’s scouting combine staring at their smartphones like teenagers, waiting for Marshawn Lynch to confirm he is returning next season.
They are here with a co-priority forced upon them, one they didn’t have this time last month.
The Legion of Boom has suddenly become a Legion of Need.
Seattle general manager John Schneider said Thursday inside Lucas Oil Stadium that nickelback Jeremy Lane needs knee surgery. It’s the result of his end-zone interception and return in the first quarter of the Super Bowl on which Lane also broke his arm. Lane may miss the start of next season.
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Talking in a side concourse of the Colts’ home stadium and combine site, Schneider said Lane sustained the knee injury while getting knifed down to the turf on a low shoulder blow from New England receiver Julian Edelman. That was at the end of Lane’s interception return to the 14-yard line Feb. 1. Now that doctors have basically put his fractured arm back together, they will fix his knee.
The GM also disclosed All-Pro free safety Earl Thomas has yet to have the surgery he needs to repair the left shoulder he dislocated in the NFC championship on Jan. 18. He played with it the rest of that game plus Super Bowl 49. Thomas may miss the start of training camp in late July, or may at least be limited at the start of it.
“You know, I’m not sure,” Schneider said. “We are going to monitor him and make sure we do what’s best for long term. He’s going to be scratching and fighting to get out there as soon as he can, but we just don’t know where he will be.”
Compound this news with Schneider sounding resigned that the Seahawks are about to lose starting cornerback Byron Maxwell to a “strong” market for him in unrestricted free agency next month — plus the fact the team isn’t yet sure if Pro Bowl strong safety Kam Chancellor needs knee surgery — and depth in the secondary has rocketed up Seattle’s priority list for free agency, beginning March 10, and the draft on April 30-May 2.
Do the Seahawks wish Lane had taken a knee for the touchback when he intercepted Tom Brady’s pass 5 yards deep in the end zone in the Super Bowl, or what?
The GM said he is having ongoing, “amicable” negotiations with the agent for quarterback Russell Wilson on a new contract beyond his rookie deal currently set to expire following the bargain base salary of $798,651 for the 2015 season. Schneider said there is no timetable on getting Wilson’s deal done.
As for Lynch, Schneider said the Seahawks haven’t gotten any clarity on whether the running back wants to return to play in 2015 — or retire as a 29-year-old star at the height of his popularity, one who led the NFL with 19 total touchdowns this past season.
“Not yet. I think everybody needs time away, especially at that position and the way he runs the ball,” Schneider said. “I’ve talked to his people a bunch, his representatives. He knows we want him to play.”
The sense I’m getting is the Seahawks expect him to come back to play the final season of his four-year contract. Schneider has already said Lynch would get a new deal before this coming season to replace his scheduled $5 million base salary and $2 million roster bonus for this year. It would be a contract likely to have a lower base salary but higher bonuses and guarantees, a deal that would lower his salary cap number currently set at $8.5 million.
Asked if it would surprise him should Lynch actually retire, Schneider said: “Not really. He’s a guy that just kind of beats to his own drum. He does what he wants. He would never let you know one way or the other.
“There have been a lot of great running backs who just walked away. So, I have no idea.”
Lynch left his 2014 status in limbo until he ended a mini contract holdout eight days into training camp through late July.
Schneider is trying to move the needle far earlier this time.
“Yeah, we’d like to know soon,” Schneider said, adding the team has a deadline date on Lynch’s choice that is “not for public knowledge.”
That date is likely March 10, the day NFL free agency begins, so the Seahawks know whether they need to sign or draft a feature running back. Schneider said the team remains encouraged by two-minute-drill back Robert Turbin and 2013 second-round pick Christine Michael, but neither has proven ready to be the lead, every-down back coach Pete Carroll’s offense always features. Plus, indications remain that Michael has yet to gain the coaching staff’s full trust.
To be clear: Schneider is merely postulating that with Lynch anything is possible, that you just never know.
Asked if Lynch has given the Seahawks any specific indication he might not come back, the GM said: “No he hasn’t, really.
“He’s the ultimate teammate. The players love him, so does everybody in the building,” Schneider said. “He’d really be missed.
“He hasn’t given us any indication that he would leave or anything. I was asked a question if it would surprise me, and it wouldn’t, just based on the individual. He works his tail off. You know, that’s a hard job that he has.
“Marshawn, he’s phenomenal. Obviously he’s a heartbeat guy,” Schneider said. “A guy like that, you do everything you can to let him go to work. The guy loves playing football.”
The Seahawks just don’t love waiting for him to confirm that he wants to do it again in 2015.
Schneider said DT Brandon Mebane is recovering well from the hamstring he tore in November and that the veteran run-stuffer should be healthy by summer. … Asked to confirm WR Paul Richardson, who tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his knee Jan. 10 in the playoff win over Carolina, is unlikely to return until after the regular season begins, Schneider said: “Yeah, that’s going to be a tough one.” … Seattle’s free agents for 2015 beyond Maxwell include starting LG James Carpenter, DT Kevin Williams, LB Malcolm Smith, DE O’Brien Schofield, WR Ricardo Lockette, QB Tarvaris Jackson and TE Tony Moeaki. Schneider isn’t thinking the team is going to lose most of those guys. “We don’t feel that way. We feel we have a great shot to keep our guys,” the GM said. “That being said, we are not going to do anything different than we have in the past. We are going to claim a player here and there, take our shots. And if anyone wants to trade us a player, we will be open to that. And then we are going to do draft well and play some young players.” … … Is the GM over the last-second Super Bowl loss to New England yet? Ha! Good one. “No, I’m not over it. I think it’s always going to stay with you,” Schneider said. “I think it will stick with us forever. And it will keep driving us towards excellence.”