John Schneider surely knew this was a possibility: Marshawn Lynch wanting to come back.
And he had to know he might have to make a tough decision on how to handle Beast Mode if he did want to return, considering the Seahawks had already made their plans to move on.
So here come the Raiders, reportedly wanting to lure Lynch out of retirement and hope the Seahawks basically give him to them — a “friends and family” discount from Schneider to former Green Bay cohort Reggie McKenzie, who runs the Raiders. Unlike last year, when the Raiders reportedly tried to trade for Lynch, it sounds like Lynch is amenable to playing. And it sounds like he wants the Seahawks to release him so he can play in his hometown for another year or two.
If all true, Schneider has a decision to make on Lynch: Keep him, trade him or cut him. Keeping him is not really an option — both sides seemingly have moved on. Trading him might be tough, if the Raiders refuse to cooperate. So that could leave Schneider with only one option: Just let him go for nothing. Well, almost nothing.
The team is in a bad spot with this one, considering Lynch would count $9 million against the salary cap as soon as he was NFL-active again. After re-signing Luke Willson and DeShawn Shead on Friday, the Hawks are down to around $11 million in cap space. So they clearly cannot afford to keep Lynch at that price and still make many other moves in free agency (without cutting someone).
Obviously, a trade would be the best thing for the Seahawks — ideally netting a couple of Day 3 picks (one this year, one next year) for the nearly 31-year-old. But the Raiders reportedly don’t want to give up much for him, and they would want to redo his contract, too. They could just let Lynch force Seattle’s hand, hoping for the release and a low-cost addition.
If the Raiders do that, Schneider’s best move would be to come to an agreement with Lynch: The running back pays back the $5 million in prorated signing bonus money that hit the Hawks’ salary cap last year after he retired, and the Hawks let him go.
The Hawks should then be able to get that money credited to their caps in the 2018 and 2019 league years.
Schneider is not likely to stand in the way of Lynch going to play in Oakland, but Seattle needs to get something in return. If a trade for draft picks is not possible, the bonus recovery would be the consolation prize.
Of course, in the end, being the nice guy he is, Schneider probably will just let Lynch keep the money and head to Oakland for nothing — the GM satisfied to relieve his 2017 salary cap of the sudden, but not totally unexpected, albatross.