Marshawn Lynch Has No Leverage, Little Chance of New Deal by Holding out

Gary DavenportNFL AnalystJuly 24, 2014

USA Today

The Seattle Seahawks were the most run-heavy team in the NFC last year, and Marshawn Lynch was the engine that drove that ground game all the way to a victory in Super Bowl XLVIII.

That performance, and the two big years that came before it, have apparently led Lynch to believe that he's earned a bigger paycheck. But, with the 28-year-old reportedly set to hold out, Lynch is about to discover something.

How much leverage he thinks he has and how much leverage he actually has are two different things.

On Thursday, former teammate Michael Robinson announced on the NFL Network that Lynch informed him that he won't be showing up for camp this week in Renton, Washington.

Daniel Jeremiah of also tweeted it:

Per Bob Condotta of The Seattle Times, Robinson said, "Marshawn Lynch just called me, we just talked. He said he will be holding out from training camp this year with the Seahawks.”

Per Spotrac, Lynch is currently in the third year of a four-year contract signed in 2012. The deal will pay Lynch $5 million in base salary in 2014, and his $7.5 million average annual salary makes Lynch the seventh-highest-paid player at his position in the NFL.

Apparently, Lynch feels that's insufficient, and after looking at his production over the past three seasons, there are those who would argue that Lynch is right.

Marshawn Lynch 2011-2013

Over the past three seasons, no running back in the National Football League has more regular-season carries than Lynch's 901. He's topped 1,200 rushing yards and scored double-digit touchdowns every year over that span.

In each of the past two seasons Lynch has ranked as a top-five running back at Pro Football Focus (subscription required), and as ESPN pointed out, there haven't been many backs in the NFL better at picking up tough yardage over the past three seasons:

That's all well and good. You'd be hard-pressed to find someone (sober, anyway) who would argue that Lynch isn't a very good (even great) running back.

Even so, the odds of Lynch getting a new deal are somewhere between slim and none.

For starters, the Seahawks have made it clear that they have no intention of redoing Lynch's deal:

As Condotta wrote, "It’s not expected that the team is willing to re-do his contract, not wanting to set the precedent of ripping up existing contracts. It’s thought the team has told Lynch it has no plans to re-do his deal."

Frankly, the Seahawks aren't in a position to give Lynch a big raise even if they wanted to. The team just signed safety Earl Thomas and cornerback Richard Sherman to huge contract extensions.

If the Seahawks have another successful season (a reasonable assumption), quarterback Russell Wilson's new deal may be the largest in NFL history.

In fact, with Wilson's contract looming and Lynch carrying a $9 million cap hit in 2015, there's been more than a little speculation that 2014 is going to be Lynch's last year in Seattle anyway.

That's because many others feel that Lynch's replacement is already on the team.

Going all the way back to February's scouting combine in Indianapolis, the Seattle staff has absolutely gushed about second-year back Christine Michael:

According to Condotta, Michael's work in OTAs and minicamp "did nothing to quell the idea he will get regular carries this season. The only question is how many."

Also, as ESPN's Kevin Seifert points out, at 28, Lynch is past the age when the majority of running backs begin to decline. "(Of) running backs who have played at least four NFL seasons since 2001," Seifert said, "with a minimum average of 75 carries per season, we see their careers peak at age 27. Afterward, their rushing totals drop by 15 percent in one year, 25 percent in two and almost 40 by the time they are 30."

Add it all up, and Lynch isn't exactly negotiating from a position of strength. The only thing Beast Mode is going to accomplish by holding out is losing even more money in fines.


Gary Davenport is an NFL Analyst at Bleacher Report and a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association and the Pro Football Writers of America. You can follow Gary on Twitter @IDPManor.