Marshawn Lynch’s absence or presence was expected to be among the most significant stories of the first day of Seahawks training camp.
Former teammate Michael Robinson provided the scoop a day early, saying Thursday that Lynch will not attend due to dissatisfaction over his contract. Robinson shared Lynch’s plans on the NFL Network, where he’s working as an analyst.
“Marshawn Lynch just called me, we just talked. He said he will be holding out from training camp this year with the Seattle Seahawks,” Robinson said. “I really think he wants his position in the organization and how they view him, he just wants that re-calibrated a little bit.”
Robinson added that he doesn’t know whether the two sides have discussed any adjustment to Lynch’s deal, but multiple reports indicate that the Seahawks don’t plan on giving in. John Clayton told 710 ESPN Seattle on Thursday that Seattle “will not give him any money, I think that’s pretty certain.”
Lynch skipped the voluntary portion of Seattle’s offseason workout program, reportedly due to his desire for greater compensation than his current contract calls for. He reported to the team’s mandatory minicamp, and while he didn’t practice, his attendance was an indication that whatever dispute existing between the team and the player had not become an acrimonious one.
If Lynch does indeed hold out and the Seahawks don’t budge, it could easily reach that point.
The stances that each side appears to be taking are understandable.
Lynch has been invaluable to the Seahawks, and the deal he signed two years ago – while comparable to that of other top running backs – probably doesn’t reflect his importance to the team in light of the larger deals Seattle has since given to other players. He’s 28 years old, approaching the end of his NFL shelf life, and he’ll likely never have more leverage than he does now.
The Seahawks, on the other hand, are already scheduled to pay Lynch a 2014 base salary of $5 million that ranks fifth among NFL running backs. While they may not be up against the salary cap this season, they have to budget knowing that quarterback Russell Wilson is a year away from what should be a massive new contract. They also have to keep in mind the precedent they would set by giving in to the contract demands of a player who is only halfway through his current deal.
There may not be a more reliable source on this matter than Robinson, who was Lynch’s lead blocker for four seasons and remains his close friend. But remember this: all indications were that Lynch was going to skip minicamp until he showed up on the first day, thereby avoiding what could have reached nearly $70,000 in fines.
Considering how unpredictable he’s proven to be, would it be a complete shock if Lynch shows up on Friday after all? He would be subject to $30,000 in fines for each day of training camp he misses and he wouldn’t recoup that money if the Seahawks stand firm, which reports indicate they will.