Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch is destined to accrue a total of $30 million if he finishes out his current four-year contract as planned. That's a great price amid a modern NFL landscape where ball-carriers are viewed as disposable and interchangeable as ever.
Lynch's recent demands for a new deal make little sense in that context with the money he is slated to rake in. Since the Seahawks' savvy decision-makers assembled the most recent Super Bowl champion, they aren't likely to cave in any negotiations, making this a no-win situation for the Pro Bowler known affectionately as Beast Mode.
ESPN.com's Terry Blount reported recently that Lynch is threatening to sit out Seattle's mandatory minicamp as a means of pushing the front office into giving him a fresh contract.
Salary-cap expert Joel Corry of CBSSports.com feels Lynch has little chance of seeing his wishes granted:
Per Spotrac.com, Lynch is already among the top five highest-paid running backs in the game, with regard to the $5 million he's slated to earn in 2014. That's less than $1 million from the No. 3, Chicago Bears all-purpose dynamo Matt Forte.
NFL Network analyst Jordan Babineaux met with Lynch recently and dispelled the notion that the 28-year-old veteran would retire, per NFL.com's Gregg Rosenthal:
I don't see Marshawn walking away just yet. He's working on his training. He's doing the normal things that he always does. We actually went out last week when I was in Seattle and he and I had a conversation and had a drink. The bottom line is, it is about the money. When a guy starts producing the way Marshawn has been producing, he wants to be paid.
The reason retirement is being whispered about: this report by NFL Network's Ian Rapoport:
If that first part is true, money shouldn't be a problem for Lynch. With plenty saved, he has millions banked to work with in retirement. It makes sense that he's trying to maximize his value, but it will ultimately be to his personal detriment. It could also throw off the locker room dynamic.
General manager John Schneider drafted Robert Turbin in 2012 and Christine Michael last year in the second round. Both have bulky frames but also have speed to keep the Seahawks' run-heavy offense moving.
So how does Lynch plan on distinguishing himself as a worthy candidate for another payday?
Although he has produced at an exceptional rate—logging three straight double-digit touchdown seasons—Lynch is an older, more expensive backfield option than the two upstarts vying to eventually supplant him. Michael or Turbin may move to the top of the depth chart sooner rather than later should Lynch play his cards wrong in this contract-demanding stunt.
Head coach Pete Carroll has praised both younger backs for their work thus far in the offseason, per SI.com's Doug Farrar:
This has been great for them. Christine has made the most progress, he’s had the farthest to come. Turbo continues to work really well. Turbo got his knee cleaned up, which has really helped him. Those guys are right on it. Really doing well on pass protection and pass assignments. In the passing game, both guys have shown that they can help us. It’s been a great offseason for those guys.
The next running back to get paid in the Emerald City will be whomever emerges as the featured back between Michael and Turbin. Given his higher draft profile and preliminary reports, Michael seems to be the top candidate to do so.
Also to consider looking ahead is the impending extension for quarterback Russell Wilson that will eat up a ton of cap space. Wilson is on the books on the cheap at the moment, courtesy of the 2012 third-round draft pick's rookie contract. That won't be the case for much longer.
Presuming Wilson continues playing at a high level, he figures to become the team's highest-paid player.
The underrated leader of Seattle's elite defense, middle linebacker Bobby Wagner, is from Wilson's draft class and will be seeking a raise when his contract expires in 2016. That's coming sooner than it seems, because as the Seahawks try to prepare for sustainable success, Schneider may try to lock up Wilson and Wagner next year. Seattle won't be sweating either of these players out as free agents, especially in the case of Wilson.
Those two, Wilson and Wagner, should be too much of a priority on the horizon for Seattle to even mull enhancing Lynch's salary. The pure value of his position alone makes it an unworthy investment. As electric and exciting as Beast Mode has been, this is not the proper time for the Seahawks to even negotiate something new for Lynch.
The best move for Lynch is to buy in, win the money he can now and continue to thrive as the battering ram as the Seahawks gear up to defend the Lombardi Trophy.