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Contract Game Begins For Seahawks' Lynch, Wilson

SeahawksWilsonandLynch.jpg
Matt Slocum
/
AP Photo
Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson hands off to Marshawn Lynch during Super Bowl XLIX.

The Seahawks are in contract mode with two of their best players. Running back Marshawn Lynch is hinting at retirement. Quarterback Russell Wilson is poised for a big payoff.

KPLU sports commentator Art Thiel says the salary cap will be a factor in both players’ negotiations.End Of The Road For Beast Mode?

The Seahawks' PR machine kicked into high gear this week. General manager John Schneider went on sports radio talk shows to declare the team's love for Beast Mode.

"He made it clear that the Seahawks really want Marshawn back," Art said. "That is in contradiction to rumors during the regular season that the Seahawks were fed up with his act. They’re not. They also wanted to get that clear to the public."

“It kind of puts pressure on Marshawn, because he’s in position to be a little bit of a bad guy if he resists or does not make a deal to return," Art continued.

Lynch's only leverage is retirement, says Art.

"So he has made it clear to Schneider that he is thinking about retirement. I don’t think that’s serious. I think it’s a negotiating ploy," he said.

The Clock Is Ticking

Art says Lynch has had a great toll exacted on his body from the hard-charging way he runs.

"I think that Marshawn has only a year or two left at that level," he said. "But I also think that the Seahawks are rumored to be thinking about increasing his salary from the scheduled $5 million in the fourth and final year of the contract to at least $10 million.

“So, the test is not the amount of money. The test is going to be the length of the contract. Can the Seahawks afford to pay Marshawn beyond this coming season in 2015 and 2016? Marshawn would like to have guaranteed quite a ways out.”

Will Wilson Take One For The Team?

Art says Wilson's situation is different than Lynch's because he is three years younger and has the likelihood of a much longer playing career.

"The Seahawks want to get him signed for as long as possible to secure their future and build around him accordingly," Art said. “The difference is that I think Russell Wilson is much more willing to do something that would be team-friendly relative to the salary cap.

“The Seahawks have $23 million under the cap to play with," Art said. "Some of that’s going to go to Russell, some of it’s going to go to Lynch and some of it’s going to go to their other players. And what’s left over might go to a free agent hire from another team.

“They want to try to see if they can get Marshawn to sign up first to let them know what kind of flexibility they have for Russell.”

Done Deals?

Art thinks Wilson will do what's best for the team while still securing his financial future. He's not so sure about what will happen with Lynch. And it may be the start of preseason before we know.

"I think Russell is a very smart guy. I think he’s on the same page with the team about trying to make a deal that allows the Seahawks enough flexibility to make other deals for players that will help improve the Seahawks’ chances to get back to the Super Bowl," Art said. 

Wilson won't be foolish, says Art, because hes' been underpaid for these first three years. 

"I think he only got $600,000 this last season. He’s about to get at least $20 million [a year] and maybe even more. But the structure of the contract is important because if they can keep the salary cap hit low in 2015, their chances to get back to the Super Bowl are increased," Art said. 

Art is less certain about what Lynch might do. 

“As far as Marshawn goes, I think what’s going to happen is the Seahawks are going to make an offer, Marshawn is going to say ‘I want more years,’ and after that, I have no idea.

“I think anyone who has wagered money on predicting Marshawn’s words or deeds, any of his actions, is a poor person. So, I’m not going to bet on it," he said. "I just think for the 12s’ sake, it would be a great thing if both of them get done. I'm going to guess that Wilson will be done and I’m a little less certain about Marshawn. But I think, at the end, that it may be until August before we find out the deal will get done," Art said.

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You can find Art Thiel’s work at Sportspress Northwest and Crosscut.com.

Kirsten Kendrick has been hosting Morning Edition on KNKX/KPLU since 2006. She has worked in news radio for more than 30 years. Kirsten is also a sports lover. She handles most sports coverage at the station, including helping produce a two-part series on the 50th anniversary of Title IX and the ongoing series "Going Deep."
Art Thiel is a co-founder and writer for the rising sports website Sportspress Northwest. In 2003 Thiel wrote the definitive book about the Seattle Mariners, “Out of Left Field,” which became a regional bestseller. In 2009, along with Steve Rudman and KJR 950 afternoon host Mike Gastineau, Thiel authored “The Great Book of Seattle Sports Lists,” a cross between historylink.org and Mad Magazine that has become mandatory reading for any sports fan who has an indoor bathroom.
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