The one person all of Seattle will be looking for on the practice field is someone who’s not expected to be there.
And if that sounds like a contradiction, well, that’s fitting since this is Marshawn Lynch we’re talking about. His presence – or lack thereof – is the one thing everyone will be watching for Tuesday when Seattle begins a three-day minicamp that is mandatory for veterans.
If he doesn’t attend, it puts some teeth – not to mention a fair bit of money – into the reports that Lynch is looking for a raise on his current contract. With the possibility of a staredown looming, now seems like as good of a time as any to summarize the situation as it stands.
Here’s what we know:
1. Lynch has two years remaining on his contract.
He signed the deal in February 2012, a four-year contract that was not quite in the upper-echelon. At the time, that was composed of Adrian Peterson in Minnesota and Chris Johnson in Tennessee. Lynch’s contract was firmly amid the second tier of top running backs, guys like Chicago’s Matt Forte, Baltimore’s Ray Rice and Houston’s Arian Foster. Lynch is scheduled to earn $5.5 million in salary and bonuses in 2014, which ranks among the top five at his position. Only Peterson and Philadelphia’s LeSean McCoy have an annual salary that’s more than $1 million greater than Lynch’s current deal.
2. Lynch has been uninvolved this offseason even by his standards.
He’s never been the most devoted attendee of the team’s offseason program, but this year, he has been absent entirely. In fact, he didn’t fly back from the Super Bowl with the team and skipped its visit to the White House. The one team function he did attend – the victory parade – he arrived at the last minute. Until last week, though, the assumption was this could just be Lynch’s personal style. After all, he doesn’t march to the beat of his own drummer so much as he has his own personal percussion section.
3. People are saying Lynch is dissatisfied.
Lynch hasn’t said anything himself. A report from Yahoo.com said Lynch was expected to be absent, something echoed by ESPN. On Friday, Jordan Babineaux – a former Seahawk who now works for the NFL Network – said Lynch wanted a raise.
4. Missing minicamp would be expensive.
Lynch is under contract, and if he doesn’t show up to the three-day mandatory minicamp, the team can fine him as much as $69,445 if he misses all three days.
5. The Seahawks have extended plenty of players, but none with more than a year remaining on their contract.
It has been a habit, actually, with six different Seahawks signed to new contracts before their previous deal expired: Max Unger and Chris Clemons in 2012, safety Kam Chancellor last year before the trio of safety Earl Thomas, cornerback Richard Sherman and receiver Doug Baldwin this offseason. In each case, the player had one season remaining on his contract. Lynch has two years left on his deal.
6. Seattle did rework the final couple of years of Zach Miller’s deal.
It wasn’t a restructuring so much as a paycut. The upshot, however, was that tight end Zach Miller’s contract was re-written to keep him with the Seahawks next year, too. So while he took a paycut for 2014 from $6 million to $3 million, it came with assurances he will be on the team in 2015. The difference with Lynch: He’s not facing a paycut, but would be looking for a raise.
No one expects Lynch’s situation to be resolved this week. His attendance at the minicamp is the next step in gauging just how serious this situation might be.
In the meantime, here are three things that you can actually look for this week beyond taking roll call:
1. Does Jesse Williams continue to stand strong in the middle?
His rookie year never got going as he was placed on injured reserve because of a knee injury in August. Given that his knee was a concern heading into the draft – and a big reason the defensive tackle was still on the board in the fifth round – it was no guarantee that Williams would be able to return. So far, Williams has rekindled the optimism Seattle felt when it drafted him, trading up to pick him out of Alabama.
“I’m really encouraged with what we’ve seen from Jesse,” said Dan Quinn, Seattle’s defensive coordinator. “You can tell how big and strong the guy is just by looking at him. For him to be out here and be pain-free and playing it’s awesome for us.”
Williams can play both the defensive-tackle positions in Seattle’s defense.
2. Will Kevin Norwood keep catching on as quickly as he has been?
The fourth round hasn’t exactly been Seattle’s sweet spot when it comes to drafting receivers. Kris Durham lasted just one season with the team after he was chosen in 2011, and Chris Harper didn’t even make it out of training camp a year ago. But so far, Norwood has looked smooth and polished and seems to be a natural fit in the slot with Doug Baldwin now seeing more time on the outside.
3. Is Tharold Simon going to restore the depth of Seattle’s secondary?
The Seahawks lost both Brandon Browner and Walter Thurmond in free agency, but Simon’s emergence this offseason has tempered the worries about depth behind starting cornerbacks Richard Sherman and Byron Maxwell. Simon was a fifth-round choice in 2013 but spent the year on injured reserve because of a stress fracture in his foot. He also broke a bone in his other foot. He has been healthy for a month now, and his work ethic has been evident (and improved). He’s got the length and the strength Seattle likes in its cornerbacks, and Simon isn’t just fitting in this offseason, he’s standing out.