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If Lynch stages a staredown, Seahawks can’t blink

Reportedly unhappy with his contract, Marshawn Lynch may skip next week’s mandatory minicamp. (AP)

RENTON – He is one of the Seattle’s most consistent performers and one of its most unpredictable personalities.

A player who embodies the defiantly physical personality that Pete Carroll wants in these Seahawks even as his offseason absences seemed to defy the coach’s “All In” mantra.

Yes, Marshawn Lynch is a study in contrasts so maybe it makes sense that his reported desire for a new contract can be both understandable yet entirely unrealistic and, above everything else, unlikely.

That’s not only because he just turned 28, an age where the wheels start to wobble for NFL running backs. And it’s not just because he plays running back, a position that has been devalued across the NFL over the past three years.

It’s because he is only halfway through a contract he signed in 2012, one that still has him among the five highest-paid players at his position this year and to give him another turn at the trough now would undermine the system and order Seattle has followed in retaining its core players.

OK, time for a deep breath. It’s important to take note that Lynch hasn’t missed anything mandatory. Not yet. He hasn’t attended anything since the team’s Super Bowl victory parade, either, and on Wednesday there were reports from and stating Lynch isn’t expected to attend next week’s three-day minicamp. That minicamp is mandatory and would cost Lynch as much as $69,455 in fines should he skip it. Neither Lynch nor his representative returned messages.

It’s not hard to see Lynch’s perspective. He’s been the top running back of a run-first offense, a player who has rushed for more than 1,200 yards in three successive years and he’s just watched as his employer handed out raises to a number of his teammates.

Marshawn Lynch’s base salary of $5 million in 2014 ranks fifth among NFL running backs, according to

Player ’14 base Avg. (RB rank) Gtd. (RB rank)
A. Peterson $11.75M $13.7M (1) $36M (1)
L. McCoy $7.65M $9M (2) $20.76M (3)
M. Forte $5.95M $7.6M (5) $13.8M (8)
A. Foster $5.75M $8.7M (3) $20.75M (4)
M. Lynch $5M $7.5M (6) $17M (6)

It’s not like Lynch is grossly underpaid. His 2014 base salary of $5 million is fifth-highest at his position, and he has been paid $17 million over the previous two seasons. But on average, he’s now the fifth-highest paid player on his team and he might never have more leverage than he does at this point.

But if Lynch really digs in his heels and demands a raise, it’s not realistic to think the team is going to give in.

After all, Lynch plays on a team that has avoided investing significantly in players as they approach 30 and one that used its first draft choice in 2013 on a someone at his very position, Christine Michael. Not only that, but he’s pushing the team into a corner because if the Seahawks double back now and renegotiate Lynch’s contract two years after it was signed, what precedent does that set for other players to ask their deals be redone?

There is an order this team has pursued in retaining players, one embodied by the fact that safety Earl Thomas – who played four seasons in Seattle – was signed to an extension before cornerback Richard Sherman, who had played three seasons.

And as important as Lynch is to this team, as beloved as he is as a teammate, he’s pushing for trouble if he wants his deal renegotiated.

What happens next is up to Lynch, and next week’s minicamp becomes the next chance to see just how serious Seattle’s running back is about trying to force the team’s hand.