Obviously, the end of the holdout comes as a bit of a surprise considering Lynch announced last Thursday that he intended to stay away from Seahawks training camp until he secured a new deal.
But it’s clear that things started to change for Lynch once head coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider remained firm in their stance that the organization would not be willing to negotiate an extension.
Nevertheless, Lynch’s feeble holdout attempt wasn’t a complete waste. According to Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk, the Seahawks caved in to the tune of an extra $1.5 million or so, courtesy of some creative accounting:
Under Lynch’s previous contract, he was due to make a $5 million base salary this year, plus $500,000 in per-game roster bonuses, and he could have earned another $500,000 in incentives if he had rushed for 1,500 yards. Now Lynch gets a base salary of $6 million (meaning the Seahawks effectively guaranteed the $1 million he previously would have had to earn), plus they’re taking $500,000 that he had been scheduled to get paid in 2015 and giving it to him now instead. In all, Lynch will make $6.5 million this year.
According to Smith, Seattle has also promised to forgo the fines for Lynch's absence from training camp thus far.
With that being said, it’s now back to football for Lynch and the Seahawks. Moreover, Lynch ending his holdout reminds us just how good the Seahawks can be.
Even though all the talk primarily surrounds defensive coordinator Dan Quinn’s defense, Lynch’s reappearance emphasizes the tandem of him and second-year running back Christine Michael.
Sure, Michael’s contributions were few and far between during his rookie season in 2013, but it’s evident he is set to play a much bigger role in offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell’s system in 2014.
“He had an offseason where he just seemed to grow up,’’ Carroll said, via Bob Condotta of The Seattle Times. “He seemed to become really clear about the expectation of the workload, the job, the position that he’s playing, the responsibility of it and all that. He was just kind of bright-eyed, this was just a young pup his first year. But he’s made a big shift.’’
Coach Carroll is generally optimistic and upbeat about any young player on the roster, but he has seemed overly giddy about Michael this offseason.
Here’s what Carroll told Terry Blount of ESPN.com: “It looks like he’s [Michael] absolutely ready and he's really tuned in. Christine has done everything we asked of him and I'm really proud of the progress he's made.”
If Carroll is truly proud of the progress Michael has made, does that mean he and Lynch will shoulder more of the workload together? At this point in time, no one really knows; however, Condotta believes Michael’s play in the spring “did nothing to quell the idea he will get regular carries this season.”
Is it to be expected, then, that Michael will see a 50-50 split with Lynch? No, but it does mean the Seahawks backfield is set to be more explosive than it ever has been under Carroll.
That is not a knock on Lynch—he is still one of the NFL’s best at his position—but I think we can all agree that a 28-year-old running back with a massive amount of carries (901) the last three years is a bit worrisome.
Which is why Seattle is doing the right thing by investing in both players in 2014. Let’s not forget, Michael was an absolute stud when he did find the field as a rookie.
For a case in point, take a look at how well he performed in preseason play. On 40 preseason rushing attempts, Michael amassed 201 yards rushing, averaged 1.9 yards after contact and scored one touchdown.
Not to mention, he ripped off eye-opening runs like this one against the Green Bay Packers:
As far as Michael’s regular-season play went, he didn’t quite garner as much playing time as he did in the preseason. But he was productive nonetheless.
In four regular-season games, Michael averaged 4.4 yards a carry on 18 attempts and forced five missed tackles along the way. Yes, the sample size was incredibly small, but Brian Nemhauser of HawkBlogger.com is confident Michael could easily produce a similar average on 100-plus carries.
In fact, Nemhauser doesn’t think the Seahawks offensive coaching staff is entirely averse to the idea of using a No. 2 running back more than it has in the past:
If you look at Tom Cable's history with the Raiders and the Falcons, he is not completely opposed to the concept. Michael Bush and Darren McFadden got over 110 carries in 2010 and 2011. Jerious Norwood got 100 carries in relief of Warrick Dunn during Cable's tenure with the Falcons.
Even though backup runners under Carroll have only topped 80 carries in a season once, it seems like Seattle’s backfield is in the midst of evolving.
Coincidentally enough, it appears as if that metamorphosis is going to impact the rest of the offense as well. That’s not to say, though, that the Seahawks are going to be an air-it-out team, according to Bleacher Report's Cian Fahey:
“He can definitely handle it,’’ Bevell said, via Condotta. “It’s just that we don’t ask him to do it. We don’t really rely on one player to really carry anything...it’s just not an offense that we do to drop back 50 times a game. But can we? We absolutely could. Could he handle it? He can absolutely handle it.’’
Bevell’s comment says a lot about where the Seahawks are as a whole. Not only do they have a dominant defense, but they now have an equally dominant offense.
Long gone are the days of Justin Forsett being Seattle’s No. 1 running back and Mike Williams and Ben Obomanu being its top pass-catchers. Over the course of the last two years, a changing of the guard has taken place.
Wilson, Lynch, Michael, Doug Baldwin, Percy Harvin, Jermaine Kearse, Richardson, Norwood and Zach Miller all remind us just how dangerous the Seahawks can be in 2014.
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