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Where things stand with Marshawn Lynch, Raiders and Seahawks

The latest development in the Marshawn Lynch situation wasn’t a development after all.

Lynch’s return to the NFL appeared to be taking another significant step toward becoming a reality with a report on Friday from Mike Silver of the NFL Network that the retired Seahawks running back had agreed to terms with the Raiders. Several subsequent reports refuted that, including one from Lynch’s close friend and former Seahawks teammate Michael Robinson.

Lynch then addressed Silver’s premature report on Twitter:

It could soon be real. Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network and others stated that while there isn’t an agreement yet between Lynch and the Raiders, one is expected.

A new deal with Oakland would set the stage for a trade from the Seahawks, who still hold Lynch’s rights because he was under contract for two more years when he retired after the 2015 season. That contract included a $9 million base salary for 2017, more than Oakland or any other team would pay a soon-to-be-31-year-old running who’s coming off a year away from football, especially in what’s been a down market this offseason for free agents at that position.

So if Lynch is going to play for Oakland, he’ll have to agree to a new deal at a lower salary.

If he does, the next step would be a trade. As previously noted, Seahawks general manager John Schneider and his Raiders counterpart, Reggie McKenzie, are close friends from their time together in the Packers’ front office. Schneider himself said earlier this month on “Bob, Groz and Tom” that he and McKenzie have discussed the Lynch situation and that he expects it to be seamless process because of their relationship.

The Schneider-McKenzie connection has been one reason to believe that the two could work out a deal even though Seattle doesn’t hold much leverage in trade talks because of Lynch’s contract, which would be untenable to the Seahawks if he were to remain on their roster. The Raiders know the Seahawks would have to release Lynch if the two sides couldn’t work out a trade, in which case Oakland could then sign him without having to give up anything to Seattle. Hence, Seattle isn’t in position to ask for much in return from Oakland.

Clayton: What is Marshawn Lynch looking for to return to the NFL?

It could conceivably be as low as a seventh-round choice, and that would make sense given that Oakland actually has Seattle’s 2017 seventh-rounder, having acquired it in a trade before the start of last season for linebacker Dewey McDonald. The Seahawks currently have seven picks, including a seventh-rounder acquired from Carolina.

Lynch has long been believed to only be interested coming out of retirement to play for Oakland, his hometown team. Schneider said that was his understanding during his conversation with “Bob, Groz and Tom,” though a report earlier this week stated that Lynch had interest in New England, which was perhaps him trying to leverage more money from Oakland.

Trading Lynch would not free up any cap space for the Seahawks because he has been on their reserve/retired list and therefore his contract was not on their books for 2017.