Marshawn Lynch trade rumors: Why a Raiders-Seahawks deal is difficult

In examining the scenarios in which Marshawn Lynch can return and play for the Raiders, it becomes clear: This fantasy might not become reality.

Marshawn Lynchreportedly has informed the Raidershe is ready to come out of retirement and play.

That’s great, except for one problem:The Seahawks still control Lynch'srights. So if Lynchofficially files for and is granted reinstatement by NFLcommissioner Roger Goodell,the 30-year-old running back will become a member of the Seahawks' roster, as if he never left.

So there are a number of issues at play for Seattle, Oaklandand Lynch if heis to become a Raider in 2017.

MORE: How would Lynch fit with Raiders?

The easiest way for Lynch to become a Raider would be forthe Seahawks to release him and make hima free agent. That mightbe complicated.

When the Seahawkssigned Lynch to a new contract in 2015, they paid hima $7.5 million signing bonus. Under the terms of the CBA, anyplayer who retires can be required to pay back any signing bonus money that was not accounted for on the salary cap at the time of his release.

Seattle thus far has givenno indicationit wouldoptto enforce itsrights, but it likely willif Lynch decideshe wantsto play for Oakland.

If Lynch is reinstated and the Seahawks do release him, the teamhas the right to recollect $2.5 million. That's an expensive proposition for Lynch, especially sinceSeattlewould not seek repayment if Lynch were to stay retired.

Lynch under that scenariolikely would want to be compensated by the Raiders to cover the $2.5 million, plus whatever other salary he would needto actually play football. Given the fact thatrunning backs are not paidas muchthese days, thecostscreate a difficult scenario for all parties.


The Seahawks could renounce those rights by taking Lynch back and trading him to Oakland. But that also is more difficult than it sounds.

If Lynch returns to Seattle, his $9 million salaryimmediately will count against the salary cap. Seattle currently has about $9.8 million in cap space, so taking Lynch back would more or less make it impossible for itto add moreveteran players or sign itstop draft picks until a trade isworked out. Oakland also mightnot want to give up anything of valuefor Lynch, which wouldmake this a high stakes game of chicken.

Oakland could waitSeattle out and force salary cap problems onthe Seahawksuntilthey release Lynch. The Raiders alsocouldjust movetoPlan B, whether that's Adrian Peterson, a draft pickor anyone else. If that were to happen, Seattle would beout of luck, because itwould either be stuck with Lynch at a ridiculously high price or would have to cut him and lose that right to the $2.5 million.

All the rumors and discussions also make it seem to be a given that Oakland and Lynch will be able toagree on a new contract, which is not necessarily the case.

Lynch got a massive contract from the Seahawks a few years back, butthose kinds ofdeals no longer exist at the position. The largest current long-term contract for an NFLrunning back is LeSean McCoy’s $8 million-per-year dealwith the Bills.Most contracts for RBsin Lynch’s age group arein the $4 million-per range.

While Lynch had a great career in Seattle, his final year as a Seahawk was anything but great. He averaged just 3.8 yards per carry and was injured formost of the season. Those are not the kinds of numbersa teamnormally would seeas big-contract-worthy.

This also is the same reason Peterson remains unemployed.Peterson at the very leastshould have to take a heavily incentive-laden contract, which he mightdecide is not worth the trouble.

MORE: Lynch vs. Peterson: Who to take?

Forthis tohappen — Lynch actually returning and playing for the Raiders —Seattlelikely wouldneed to give Lynch permission to negotiate with Oakland and first see whetherthe two sidescan agree on a contract. From there, Seattle wouldfind outwhat Oakland would be willing to trade for the rights to Lynch.

If that doesn't result in abottleneck, the Seahawkscan begin the process of having Lynchreturn the league and trading him. If thereis a bottleneck, odds are Lynch will remain retired.

Several moving partsneed to come together in order forLynch to return to the NFL. Don’t be surprised if it takes some time before the situationisresolved.


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