The futures of Marshawn Lynch and Zach Miller were hotly debated all offseason, with many concluding that their salaries and age (both are 28) would preclude either from remaining with the Hawks beyond 2014 — or, in Miller’s case, even in 2014.
After their stellar play in the season opener last week, though, it is easy to see both returning next year.
Most people tend to think Lynch’s Beast Mode has an expiration date and he will switch to Least Mode very soon.
The speculation has been so pervasive that he decided to hold out briefly at the start of training camp in search of a little more financial security. The Seahawks obliged, reportedly with the same deal they offered earlier in the offseason: They bumped his 2014 salary by $1 million, to $6 million, removing $500,000 in incentives and reducing his 2015 salary by $500,000, to $5 million.
He still has a $2 million roster bonus in 2015, which is why some think he might not be around next year.
But if he keeps running like he did in the 36-16 win over Green Bay, there’s no reason for him not to be back — $7 million could still be considered a bargain for him.
Coach Pete Carroll had lauded Lynch’s conditioning and quickness leading up to the opener, and he was impressed after Lynch rushed for 110 yards and two touchdowns.
“He played great,” Carroll said. “He was so explosive and decisive about his cuts. He really got just about everything out of every run he could. … He was very aggressive and took care of the football well, scored quickly when we had shots and (ran) a couple nice screen plays. He played an excellent football game.”
So did Miller. First, he broke up a sure interception early in the game. Then he made an outstanding one-handed grab of a pass that seemed overthrown by five yards. He also blocked well, especially on a jet sweep by Percy Harvin that gained 13 yards behind Miller in the first quarter. Basically, he did everything he has always done for this team since signing in 2011.
“Zach’s doing everything we’ve asked of him,” Carroll said. “He’s solid, he’s tough, he blocks, he’s versatile, he’s made big catches and key blocks. He understands the game so well that he takes advantage of that regularly.”
Carroll pointed out that block for Harvin.
“A younger guy may have held on just a hair too long and drawn a foul,” he said. “It’s not as simple as it may sound. His timing and feel for that was perfect so we get a 15-yard play instead of a penalty.
“He’s a stud for us, and I think he’s doing great.”
It seems preposterous to think he was in danger of being released earlier this offseason, but he apparently avoided getting cut only because he agreed to take a cut.
He already had been paid $22.5 million over the first three years of his five-year deal and had a team-high $11 million cap hit in 2013, so he was not surprised the Hawks asked him to reduce his pay.
The Hawks realized they were overpaying a guy who is more of a sixth lineman than a wide receiver. Plus, they were making a run at defensive end Jared Allen and needed to free up some money, so Miller took a pay cut from $6 million in total compensation to $2.89 million, with another $1 million in incentives. His 2015 pay went from $5 million to $3 million.
“When it came down to it, I wanted to be here and I just wanted to make that happen,” he told reporters in April. “Whatever I had to do to be here, that’s what got done.”
As usual, he got it done on the field in the opener, too. And if he and Lynch keep it up, there’s no reason they shouldn’t be back in 2015.