The Seattle Seahawks' 2014 training camp is getting a lot Beastlier. Running back Marshawn Lynch, who had held out throughout camp because he wanted an addendum to the four-year, $31 million contract (with $17 million guaranteed) he signed in 2012, made his first appearance at camp on Thursday. Adam Schefter reports that while the Seahawks are not prepared to give Lynch a new deal or add money to his contract in that fashion, the team will add some financial considerations. The easiest way to do that would be through incentives.
Lynch, who has carried the ball more times than any other running back over the last three seasons, is 28 and could make as much as $5.5 million this season and $7.5 million in 2015 with roster considerations. The Seahawks have realized his value all along, but as head coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider have said all along, there are team-based financial considerations, and they expected him to live up to the current agreement.
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"Everybody loves Beast Mode," Schneider said of Lynch on Tuesday. "We love him and respect the guy. I think what he’s done in this community, for this franchise, is outstanding. It’s one of those deals where you can never get inside somebody’s head. We’re just going with our plan, and I know it’s cliché-ish but next man up. We’ve had a plan in place here for a number of years, and we can’t veer from that plan for one person because it’s the ultimate team sport.
"You make models two and three years out, and you have to stick to that and know that there’s going to be tough decisions along the way. We had to let guys like Red Bryant go, Chris Clemons, we weren’t able to sign Breno [Giacomini], Golden Tate. You have to be able to make those decisions along the way knowing you’ll be able to re-sign Michael Bennett and maybe there’s a free agent that comes in and fits in your bracket. It’s just one of those deals where you have to keep going about your business, and you can’t veer off of that. Around here we talk about what’s next, and the next person is up. That being said, last year we went through this with Brandon Browner. He had his deal, and [Byron Maxwell] got his opportunity. Hey, Marshawn Lynch is phenomenal. Phenomenal player and just a unique part of what we’ve had going on here. Two years ago we were able to redo his deal, and he was a big part of that foundation that we started here.”
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Carroll added last Friday that "I’m disappointed he’s not here. By his choice, you know? I’m really focused on the guys that are here, and that have been with us and are working really hard and all. Just a comment about that is we’ve had a substantial plan working for us for years now and Marshawn was a big part of this plan and just a couple of years back, we made a big statement by making a big effort for him. We wish he was with us now, but this is a tremendous opportunity for the guys that are getting their shot. Robert Turbin and Christine Michael, they’re ready to go and really fired up about this opportunity. We’ll try to take full advantage of it."
Turbin and Michael are more than eager to show that they're ready to tote the rock on a full-time basis. Turbin is entering his third NFL season, and Michael his second. This is a game for younger backs, and as running backs coach Sherman Smith recently told me, the team had no issue if Lynch had decided to make his holdout a long-term thing. In the end, Lynch really didn't have a lot of leverage.
"They're real nice," Smith said of Turbin and Michael. "They're real nice. And when we get our other guy back in here, we've got a 'three-punch.' We've got three guys who can do it. We've got Spencer Ware in here, too. We're excited and confident about what we're going to do. We have to deal with it like, what if he [Lynch] got hurt? We're not in a panic, and our fans shouldn't be in a panic. We're not just about one player; we're about the team. Marshawn is a big part of what we do, but not the only part. We've got defense, we've got Russell, we've got players. And our runners will do a good job.
"It's 'Next Man Up.' That's our theory, no matter what position it is. Who's the next man? And in this situation, Turbs and Christian are… 'Hey, you're up. Let's go.' They want their teammates to believe that they can win with them. They want their teammates to know that if Marshawn did get hurt, 'we can still win with us.'"
Well, Turbin and Michael may have to wait a bit longer before they get their shot. Marshawn Lynch apparently isn't ready to hand anyone more carries through even the preseason.