When the Seattle Seahawks conclude OTAs Thursday, Marshawn Lynch is expected to again be absent.
Lynch (above) has skipped each of the previous eight OTA workouts, something regarded until now as business as usual for Lynch, who also missed OTAs in 2013.
But two reports tonight suggested that Lynch may hold out of the team’s mandatory mini-camp next week because he is unhappy with his contract, and specifically that he wants more upfront money.
The first report came from Yahoo.com. Yahoo.com said that the team does not expect Lynch to attend mini-camp, crediting the info to “sources familiar with the team’s thinking.”
ESPN.com reported later tonight, quoting a source close to the situation, that it is “very, very unlikely” that Lynch will be at mini-camp and that he wants more upfront money. Also, Pro Football Talk reported later tonight that Lynch “hasn’t told anyone what he plans to do” in regards to whether he will attend mini-camp.
None of the reports quote anyone on the record and there has been no comment from the Seahawks.
OTAs are voluntary and there is no punishment for not showing up. Some other Seahawks have also missed a day or two here or there for various reasons.
But players can be fined for missing mini-camp and Yahoo.com reported that if Lynch missed all three days he could be subject to a fine of
Yahoo said that “is thought to be unhappy” with his contract, but said that it was unclear if that is the only football-related reason he may miss some or all of mini-camp.
Lynch has two years left on a four-year contract he signed in March of 2012, scheduled to make a base salary of $5 million in 2014 and $5.5 million in 2015. His contract, worth up to $31 million overall and $18 million guaranteed, carries salary cap hits of $7 million in 2014 and $9 million in 2015. And according to OvertheCap.com, Lynch is the fifth-highest paid running back in the NFL with a $7.5 million per year average on his current deal.
There has been widespread speculation that the high cap number in 2015 could mean the team might release Lynch, or seek to restructure his deal, after the 2014 season as he turned 28 in April, an age when tailbacks often begin to decline.
If the ESPN report is true and Lynch wants more upfront money, that may be as a hedge against the team releasing him prior to the 2015 season, meaning Lynch wants to get some of that money now. The team made some similar salary cap-cutting moves this season releasing veteran defensive ends Red Bryant and Chris Clemons and receiver Sidney Rice (later re-signing Rice on a much cheaper deal).
Seattle has made some moves in recent years to prepare for life after Lynch, drafting Christine Michael in the second round in 2013, many viewing him as a potential successor to Lynch. With Lynch missing OTAs, Michael is sharing reps at tailback with Robert Turbin, who was taken in the fourth round in 2012.
Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said at the team’s annual Town Hall meeting last week that the team might go with a tailback-by-committee approach in 2014. But he softened on that stance Monday saying he meant that only in relation to the team’s current workouts and the fact that others are taking all the practice snaps with Lynch absent.
Lynch also skipped the team’s trip to the White House in May. But his mother, Delisa Lynch, told the Times that there was no real reason for Lynch skipping the trip, saying “he just said he didn’t want to go.”
Lynch led the Seahawks with 1,257 yards on 301 carries in 2013 as Seattle won its first Super Bowl and also scored 14 touchdowns.
Coach Pete Carroll was asked about Lynch missing OTAs on the first day and said he hadn’t talked to Lynch and didn’t know if he would take part in any OTAs, and then joked that he had seen him on ESPN that day and “he looked pretty good.” Little was made of Lynch missing OTAs, though, since he had also done so last year.