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Some Familiar Names May Not Be Seahawks Next Season

SeahawksLynchKearse.jpg
Elaine Thompson
/
AP Photo
Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch (24) is greeted by teammate Jermaine Kearse (15) after scoring a touchdown against the San Francisco 49ers. Art Thiel says Lynch and Kearse are among the popular players who might not be back next year.

Following their exit from the playoffs against the Carolina Panthers last Sunday, the Seahawks are already looking ahead to next season.  But KPLU sports commentator Art Thiel says the team’s future may not include some very popular players.

Bye-Bye Beast Mode?

The biggest question for fans seems to be running back Marshawn Lynch.

"I think the relationship is ending," Thiel said. "There's still tread on Marshawn's tires. He's only 30, but that's kind of old in NFL running back years.

"The other thing is I think he's worn out [Coach] Pete Carroll and General Manager John Schneider," Thiel continued. "There have been too many conflicts over money and playing style and so on.

"He's still admired by the Seahawks players. They think the world of him and certainly the fan base does, so there's going to be an awkward departure here.

"Next year, he's scheduled to be paid $11.5 million. But if the Seahawks cut him or trade him, they will save $6 million of that under the NFL salary cap.

"And, most importantly, they think they've found, in last year's rookie Thomas Rawls, his rough equivalent. And if he heals properly from his broken ankle I think they're comfortable with replacing Marshawn.

"It's going to be a sad day for Seahawks fans because he's meant so much for this franchise. But it was going to end sooner or later and I think this is the year."

Seahawks 'Cachet' May Mean Exit For Other Big Names

In addition to Lynch, some other popular players might be return next season.

"There are four prominent free agents [among the 15 total on the team this year]: left tackle Russell Okung and right guard J.R. Sweezy, along with wide receiver Jermaine Kearse and linebacker Bruce Irvin," Thiel said.

"I don't think any of those four are coming back - not because the Seahawks don't want them but because all of them are probably going to get more money on the open market than the Seahawks can afford to pay under the cap.

"That's really going to impact the offensive line because Okung and Sweezy have been longtime starters. I could see a situation where maybe none of the starters on the offensive line are back."

Seahawks 'Whiffed' On Offensive Line

"They were below average this year," Thiel continued. "We saw in the game against Carolina that they just got mashed. That's got to be fixed.

"The Seahawks management whiffed on that personnel position. They thought they could make guys better than they were. They didn't. A misjudgment - and that cost them throughout the year.

"I think that Okung and Sweezy are probably going to get money on the market because they are Seahawks. There's a cachet among NFL general managers: if you played for the Seahawks, you must be worth something.

"They'll probably get deals and the Seahawks will have to move on in several positions."

Kearse: 'No Hometown Deal'

Thiel said the likely exit of Jermaine Kearse from the team will be particularly hard for fans to accept because he's from here.

"He is a Lakewood kid who played well at the University of Washington and has had a tremendous career. Very clutch player but he's also had some errors.

"I'm looking at him as an average NFL receiver, which is not bad. I think he's going to get more money elsewhere."

More Question Marks: Chancellor And Bennett

Two popular players on the Seahawks defense want more money.

"Kam Chancellor and Michael Bennett - two very good players - have finished their second year of a four-year contract.," Thiel said. "We all know that Kam Chancellor held out  for the first two games [last season] and it cost him. Not only did he lose money, he wasn't quite the player he had been.

"We don't know what deal was struck between Kam and the club to get him back, but the Seahawks are going to say 'We don't renegotiate a deal until you get to the final year of your contract.'

"So there could be a real stalemate there and that's the grand mystery that we're going to have to see play out.

"But, as always is the case in NFL offseasons, much drama ahead."

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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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