The deal, announced by the team, should give Lynch more financial security than he would have enjoyed as a franchise player.
Every year is precious for running backs. Their production tends to fall off sharply from about age 28 forward. Lynch is only 25 and is coming off a 1,200-yard season, but if the Seahawks were to draft a power back in April, Lynch's long-term job security would have suffered in the absence of a longer-term commitment from Seattle.
Seattle planned to name Lynch its franchise player Monday if the sides had not reached a contract agreement. Lynch would have earned $7.7 million or so as a franchise player, and at least 1.2 times that much ($9.24 million) in 2013 if the team franchised him for a second season. Using those parameters, Lynch needed to clear about $17 million in guarantees over the first two years of his contract to feel good about the deal.
Initial reports suggest Lynch got about $18 million in guarantees. Parameters will become verifiable once the contract is on file with the NFL and the NFL Players Association.
Not that fans should care too much about the details. Lynch and his punishing running style are returning for another season and beyond. That is great news for the team. It also frees the Seahawks to use the franchise tag on another player, although there are no indications the team plans to go that route.