The Seahawks are still licking their wounds from the crushing loss to New England in Super Bowl XLIX, but it's already time for the front office to look toward next season. One big question is Marshawn Lynch. We project odds on his future.
Second-Guessing Pete Carroll
Can there really be any argument that the Seahawks totally blew it by not handing the ball to Lynch on second-and-goal from the New England 1 in the closing seconds of the Super Bowl? I'm sorry, but Coach Pete Carroll's explanation made no sense and who wants to throw away a down when the NFL championship is on the line? Carroll said Seattle threw the ball because the Patriots had their goal-line defense in and the Seahawks felt they had the advantage with their three-receiver package opposite that.
And Carroll added that Seattle didn't want to run it on second down because the Seahawks didn't want to use their final timeout if Lynch was stopped short. That might have precluded being able to run on third down because if Lynch was stopped again on that down then Seattle may not have time get off a play on fourth down. That's hogwash. You try to score. Always. It's a decision that will always be on Carroll's resume no matter how many more Super Bowl rings he might win.
There were some reports that Carroll wanted a pass play on that second down because a touchdown would have assured that QB Russell Wilson would have been named game MVP. If Lynch had scored then he likely would have. Wilson is the consummate teammate and professional, while Lynch has been a bit of a headache at times. But anyone who thinks a coach would risk an interception, which is what happened, just for some personal reasons against a player is crazy.
Lynch had to be steaming that he didn't get the ball, but he didn't throw anyone under the bus, at least publicly, simply saying: "Football is a team sport." It was the only non-silly quote that the notoriously media-shy Lynch gave during Super Bowl week.
Still in "Beast Mode" Form
Lynch is entering the final year of his contract in 2015 that would pay him $5 million as the last of a four-year, $31 million deal. Back in the summer of 2014, Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell -- who may never get a head-coaching job now in the wake of the second-down play call -- made news by saying the Seahawks were going to a running-back-by-committee for 2014. That was likely just a shot across the bow to Lynch, who ended up holding out very briefly in training camp, and Bevell quickly reversed course.
Lynch had another monster season, rushing 280 times for 1,306 yards and 13 touchdowns during the regular season. It was his fourth straight season with at least 280 carries, 1,204 yards and 11 touchdowns. No other back can claim that. Lynch was quiet in Seattle's playoff-opening win over Carolina with 59 yards rushing. However, he was a big reason the Seahawks rallied past Green Bay in the NFC title game, rushing 25 times for 157 yards and a touchdown while also catching a 26-yard pass. Then in the Super Bowl, Lynch carried 24 times for 102 yards and a score with once catch for 31 yards.
The guy might not be loved by the coaches at times, but his teammates sure do love him and Lynch is the focal point of that Seattle offense, not Wilson. The one worry the Seahawks might have had about bringing him back is that Lynch will be 29 in April and that's around the age where running backs fall off a cliff performance-wise. No back has had a bigger workload the past four years than Lynch. He also runs a very physical style that would leave him more likely to suffer an injury.
However, late in the season the Seahawks apparently changed their tune and offered Lynch an extension that would pay him more than $10 million next season alone. That could make him the highest-paid running back in the NFL, depending on what Cowboys free agent DeMarco Murray gets either from Dallas or from another team. Minnesota's Adrian Peterson has the highest per-year average salary and his future is in question with the legal issues. There also has been talk Lynch could simply retire, but that seems unlikely and it was only considered an option if Seattle won the Super Bowl. Here are SBR's projected odds for Lynch in 2015.
Lynch plays for Seahawks: -750
Lynch plays for another team: +1500
Lynch retires: +5000
Lynch joins the media: +10000
NFL Free Picks: Expect the Seahawks to keep the band together one more season as they are +550 favorites to win Super Bowl 50 on Bodog's NFL odds. Lynch will get a nice raise from his original 2015 salary, but then the team will cut him loose after the season. I would expect his workload to decrease a bit next year as the Seahawks do like backups Robert Turbin and Christine Michael and/or could take a running back at the bottom of the first round of the draft.