Seahawks’ offer to Marshawn Lynch could include a deadline

Feb 20, 2015, 12:47 PM | Updated: 1:18 pm
General manager John Schneider's recent comments about Marshawn Lynch indicate that there could be an expiration date on whatever offer the Seahawks have made to their star running back. (AP)
(AP)

The clock is ticking.

That became evident on Thursday when Seahawks general manager John Schneider was asked about a timetable for finding out if running back Marshawn Lynch will play next season.

“We’d like to know soon,” Schneider said during a press conference. “Like I said, I’ve talked to his people. They know.”

Understanding the significance of that statement requires a little bit of context not only with regard to Seattle’s recent relationship with Lynch but also the way the team moved on from quarterback Matt Hasselbeck four years ago. We’re getting ahead of ourselves, though, and before we go into Seattle’s big-picture negotiating history, let’s focus on Lynch and how differently the team is treating him this offseason.

A year ago, his desire for a new contract was kept in the background. Even when he was absent from the team’s visit to the White House. And the voluntary workouts. Whenever coach Pete Carroll was asked, he minimized the concern.

“He came in 10 days ago and he’s in very good shape,” Carroll said after Lynch was absent last May. “He’s working an intense program in his area and he is benefiting from it. We’d love to see everybody here.”

Even when Lynch sat out the start of training camp, Carroll declined to get into the specifics of what Lynch was seeking from the team.

The approach has been much different this season starting with the fact that neither Carroll nor Schneider are operating on the assumption that Lynch will choose to return. Both have said they hope to have him back, Schneider has called him someone who’s part of this team’s heartbeat, but both the coach and general manager have said they don’t know about Lynch’s intention for next season.

The second thing the team has made clear is that it intends to give Lynch a raise if he does return. Schneider stated that explicitly when he appeared on 710 ESPN Seattle’s “Brock and Salk” this month. This is incredibly important because that raise is not only the carrot Seattle is using the try and entice him back, but it also may be the stick Seattle is hoping will pry a resolution from Lynch sooner rather than later. We know Seattle is willing to sweeten Lynch’s deal. We don’t know how long that offer will stand, which brings us back to the team’s negotiation with Hasselbeck four years ago.

The Seahawks wanted to re-sign Hasselbeck after the 2010 season. They tried to re-sign him, in fact, and it was February 2011 – this very week on the league calendar – when the timeline for the offer was laid out, not just the money and length of the deal but also how long the offer was going to be on the table. The lockout was looming, scheduled to begin in March, and the Seahawks informed Hasselbeck’s negotiators that if it began, there was no guarantee the offer would still stand when the league’s doors re-opened.

The league did, in fact, lock its players out, and when those doors re-opened, the call Hasselbeck received from the Seahawks was one telling him the team was going in a different direction with Tarvaris Jackson.

Now that was Hasselbeck, the quarterback Carroll inherited and someone the team would have sought to replace even if he had re-signed. As good as Hasselbeck was for this franchise, it would be much harder for Seattle to turn the page with regard to Lynch, who remains the central ingredient not only in Seattle’s offense but its physical style of play.

What that negotiation with Hasselbeck showed was Seattle’s resolve when it comes to deadlines. When the Seahawks put an expiration date on an offer, they mean it, and while that doesn’t tell us what will happen with Lynch, it does tell us that when Schneider says the team wants an answer soon, it means it.

Seattle can’t make Lynch commit to playing the final year of his contract right now, but what the Seahawks can do is tell him that if he wants that raise that has been offered, he has to say so. Soon.

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Seahawks’ offer to Marshawn Lynch could include a deadline