Marshawn Lynch a non-factor in return, possible swan song as Seahawks’ running back

Jan 18, 2016, 9:11 AM | Updated: Jan 19, 2016, 10:43 am
With 20 yards on only six carries Sunday against Carolina, Marshawn Lynch was an afterthought in what was likely his last game as a Seahawk. (AP)
(AP)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – What very well may have been Marshawn Lynch’s final game with the Seahawks or any other team couldn’t have gone much differently than so many of the others.

One of the most prolific running backs of his era and the workhorse of Seattle’s offense during the most successful run in franchise history, Lynch carried only six times for 20 yards in the Seahawks’ divisional-round loss to Carolina.

“He didn’t get much of a chance,” coach Pete Carroll said.

Not with the way that Seattle’s offensive line was handled at times in the first half and certainly not with the way the Seahawks fell behind so far so early, forcing them to abandon the run in order to erase a 31-point deficit.

Lynch took the handoff on Seattle’s first play and was met 3 yards behind the line of scrimmage by defensive tackle Star Lotulelei, who blew through Seattle’s offensive line. Lynch averaged 4.6 yards on his other five attempts but only got one carry in the second half with the Seahawks in catch-up mode.

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Lynch was playing for the first time since sustaining an abdominal injury on Nov. 10, which required surgery and sidelined him for the next eight games. He also caught two passes for 15 yards.

“He didn’t get the opportunity to get going,” Carroll said. “Even the first run, he kind of got loose in the backfield. He didn’t have a shot. He tried hard.”

And so Lynch heads into the offseason with his future very much in question.

Retirement is a strong possibility. Lynch has considered it for at least the last two years, strongly enough this past offseason that it took a significant raise to get him to come back. Lynch even said – during an appearance on “Conan” of all places – that the $12 million the deal was to pay him in 2015 was what got him thinking, “Yeah, maybe I can do this again.”

Cornerback Richard Sherman was asked if he has any sense of Lynch’s mindset.

“I do not. I do not,” he said. “That is up to him. If I could read Beast Mode’s mind, then I think people would pay me a lot of money to tell them that.”

Even if Lynch were to decide to continue playing, the Seahawks might consider his $9 million salary for 2016 to be prohibitive considering he’ll turn 30 in April and is coming off a season in which he played in only eight of 18 games due to injuries.

All things considered, it seems almost certain that Lynch won’t be back in Seattle next season one way or another.

Asked what they’ll remember about Lynch if this is indeed it, Sherman and defensive lineman Michael Bennett spoke as though they knew it very well could be.

“I’ll remember him being a beast, Beast Mode – that’s trademarked now,” Sherman said. “He’s a beast, he’s a workhorse … If he’s strapping up his pads, he’s going to give you everything he’s got, 100 percent, play hard, fight until the last whistle. And that’s what you can appreciate. He’s an outstanding teammate, outstanding guy on and off the field. I’m going to remember him as a phenomenal person who would give you the shirt off his back.”

Before this season, Lynch rushed for at least 1,200 yards and 11 touchdowns for four straight years. He’s topped 1,000 yards six times in nine seasons – the first two times with Buffalo – scored 74 rushing touchdowns and averaged 4.2 yards per carry. He entered Sunday’s game with 917 rushing yards and nine rushing touchdowns in the postseason, which were both most among active players as well as franchise records, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

“Marshawn Lynch is a hall of fame back, one of the greatest backs to play the game,” Bennett said. “That’s what I’m always going to remember about him.”

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Marshawn Lynch a non-factor in return, possible swan song as Seahawks’ running back