Losing a Legend: The Impact of Cutting Ties with Marshawn Lynch

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When the Seahawks traded for Marshawn Lynch in 2010 for almost nothing, Seahawks fans didn’t know they were getting a back who could do almost everything.

But the Seahawks found themselves in a role reversal this offseason. This time, it was the Seahawks who were dealing Lynch away for pennies on the dollar. The decision seemed like a smart one, but it also has plenty of backlash potential.

When studying this shrewd move, it’s important to have perspective. In this article, we’ll take a look at the positives and negatives of trading the former Cal star. First —

The Negatives:

On paper, moving on from Lynch is the right thing to do; he’s 31 and inarguably past his prime. For the average post-30 tailback, the decline is inevitable and rapid.

But let’s be honest here: Lynch is anything but average. GM John Schneider can mock the “Beast Mode” moniker all he wants, but there’s a reason Marshawn has coined it. Mainly, Lynch has dominated NFL defenses with an extremely dynamic skillset: quickness, agility, power, vision and breakaway speed. He really has it all. Whatever Lynch has lost in his legs, he more than makes up for with his plethora of attributes.

Any doubters of this concept need look no further than how Lynch looked at Raiders’ OTAs earlier this month.

He looks like the same elite runner who carried the Seahawks to two Superbowls. And with a year off from football, it’s possible he will be fresher than ever. If Lynch comes even close to his elite form, Seahawks fans may never let Schneider forget the day he traded away the best ball carrier in Seahawks history.

The Positives:

In the NFL, being 30 or older is a disease. Once a player hits their third decade on Earth, teams start looking elsewhere. And for good reason: players of this age often see their performance fall off a cliff.

Whether Lynch will transcend this trend is yet to be seen. But neither the Seahawks nor the Raiders were willing to gamble too much in order to find out. Schneider was not going to pay Lynch the $9m he would have been owed in 2017, and opted to trade Lynch’s rights. It was also likely that Head Coach Pete Carroll and Schneider were getting tired of handling the rogue nature of Beast Mode, who frequently missed practices and held out for more money in 2014.

But the Raiders didn’t exactly jump the gun to acquire #24, either. Oakland is only giving Lynch $2.35m in guaranteed money, according to Spotrac. His contract is loaded with incentives, such as rushing yard milestones and per-game bonuses. Basically, the Raiders are only paying Lynch like a top back if he plays like one. And based on the salary, they are not convinced he is (yet).

During contract negotiations, Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie appeared ready to move on from Lynch if a deal could not be reached.

“At some point, you would like to know,” McKenzie said. “Prior to the draft is that point.”

Meanwhile, the Seahawks not only got cheaper with this move, but younger as well. They acquired 27-year old RB Eddie Lacy on a one-year contract with just $3m guaranteed.

Lacy is an ideal back for the physical running game Seattle covets. For one, Lacy is really good at breaking tackles. According to Pro Football Focus, he compiled 169 of them from 2013 to 2016 (good for fourth during that span).

Lacy will draw comparisons to Lynch, and they will be unfair. Lynch is untouchable in terms of power backs because he’s so much more than that. But Lacy could be a serious bellcow in his own right, and Seahawks fans should be excited. After all, he rushed for 2,317 yards and 20 touchdowns from 2013 – ’14 in Green Bay.

The Seahawks are getting bang for their buck in Lacy. He’s a young, strong runner who can blast his way through defenses. At such a reasonable price, signing Lacy seems like the right choice.

But Marshawn Lynch is Beast Mode, and any football fan can tell you why:

Whatever he does, he’ll do it as a Raider. And Seahawks fans will be watching, nervously.

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