RENTON, Wash. -- It all makes sense now, doesn’t it?
All the praise the Seattle Seahawks coaches have given running back Christine Michael. The comment from offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell about a "running backs by committee" this season, which he later said was misinterpreted.
The Seahawks' staff likely has known about this situation for a while, so pumping up Lynch’s likely successor (second-year player Michael) gives Michael more confidence and puts pressure on Lynch to get back on the field.
Lynch didn’t participate in the voluntary organized team activities, which concluded Thursday, but that didn’t send up any red flags. Lynch missed most of the OTAs last year. And Michael has looked good in all the workouts.
But Lynch’s absence this time appears to be more than just the usual quirky nature of Seattle’s beastly back. People close to Lynch say he has noticed that he now is only the fifth highest-paid player on the team in average salary per year.
So Lynch might feel a bit underappreciated at the moment as the man who rushed for more than 1,000 each of the past three seasons and the key cog in the team’s power running game.
Lynch, however, ranks among the highest-paid running backs in the league. He’s in the third year of a four-year, $30-million contract. His $5 million base salary this season ranks fifth in the NFL behind Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson ($11.75 million), Philadelphia LeSean McCoy ($7.6 million), Chicago’s Matt Forte ($5.9 million) and Houston’s Arian Foster ($5.7 million).
Lynch’s bigger concern could be what happens after this season. He saw the Seahawks release defensive ends Chris Clemons and Red Bryant, along with wide receiver Sidney Rice, all of whom had time left on their contracts. But the Seahawks were saving cap space for other players. Rice was re-signed for only $1.4 million.
Now the Seahawks have to make cap space for the upcoming deal in 2015 that likely will pay quarterback Russell Wilson close to $25 million a year.
Lynch knows that could mean he gets released after 2014, even though he is scheduled to make $5.5 million in base salary in 2015. His contract, which included a $6 million bonus, would cost the Seahawks $9 million in 2015 cap space.
With that in mind, Lynch might want more of his money now to counteract what might happen after this season.
Without actually hearing from Lynch, highly unlikely knowing his dislike for speaking to reporters, it’s impossible to say for sure what he’s thinking. It’s also impossible to say for sure what he might do.
No one in the NFL is more unpredictable than Lynch. He seems to enjoy doing what no one expects, so it wouldn’t be a shock to see him walk out on the practice field next week like nothing happened.
However, people close to him believe Lynch intends to take a stand and try to get some type of financial concession from the Seahawks.
With Lynch, you just never know. One thing for sure, he’s never boring.