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Originally published February 16, 2015 at 6:08 PM | Page modified February 19, 2015 at 4:28 PM

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Seahawks hope for resounding ‘yes’ from Marshawn Lynch

Seahawks hope to get an answer by March 10, the start of the free agent signing period, on whether featured running back will return next season.

Seattle Times columnist


Well, here we are again: Waiting for Marshawn Lynch to speak.

This time, however, it isn’t media hordes hounding him for nuggets he has no intention of imparting.

It’s Seahawks’ management, anxious to find out from their horse’s mouth just how much offseason work lies ahead of them.

Right now, it’s a big, fat unknown, and that’s a scary place for the Seahawks to be. One word from Lynch — yes or no — will be the most meaningful development of the offseason. Because one thing that grew increasingly apparent as this past season progressed is that Lynch — his running, his attitude, his aura — is absolutely vital to the Seahawks’ success.

I know that’s not a universal opinion. There will always be a faction believing that NFL running backs are, essentially, fungible entities not worth the concern, or expense, of pass-rushers, pass-catchers, and other more exotic and hard-to-fill positions.

That goes double when the running back in question turns the alarming age of 29 in April (alarming for a running back; for, say, a District Court judge, 29 would be a spring chicken. But all the actuarial tables say that the end is nigh at 29 for a running back).

And when said RB has taken such a pounding over the years that his back issues are said to be chronic, with scary words like “compressed cartilage” being thrown around, well, that’s another argument for not rushing into a contract extension.

But the Seahawks, by all accounts, have come to their decision: They want Lynch back, and they’re willing to make it financially beneficial for him to do so. I’m not surprised — I felt all along, even when we kept hearing rumbles during the season that the Seahawks were open to moving forward without Lynch, that when push came to shove, the conclusion would be different.

And push most definitely came to shove. Rather than show signs of decline in 2014, Lynch was as good, or better, than he’s ever been. He ran just as hard as always, a physical style that completely embodied the approach the team covets, and stoked the aggressiveness of everyone else on the team.

Sure, bringing back Lynch is a risk. The beat-up body that took an increasingly longer time to coax into game form on a weekly basis might finally betray him. The foibles that no doubt irked management on occasion might become more of a factor, particularly now that Lynch saw, at the Super Bowl, how well being an anti-hero plays with the public and his peers.

But you know what’s even riskier? Not bringing him back. You never know how Robert Turbin or Christine Michael would respond to an increased role — did anyone see Justin Forsett’s 1,266-yard breakout coming, based on his stint as Lynch’s backup? – but it’s hard to envision either approaching Lynch’s caliber.

The draft or free agency might bring a potential replacement, but until Lynch speaks, the Seahawks are in team-building limbo. They need an answer by March 10, when the free-agent signing period begins, followed shortly by the NFL draft, April 30-May 2.

A dreaded scenario would be for Lynch to remain noncommittal as the spring plods along, tying the Seahawks’ hands as far as moving forward without Lynch. But right now, Lynch’s availability appears to be a mystery to all concerned. Perhaps even Lynch himself doesn’t know yet.

Already, general manager John Schneider has said, in a 710 ESPN interview, that he “can’t answer” whether Lynch will play next year. Former Seahawk fullback Michael Robinson, a close friend of Lynch’s, said on the same station, as well as on NFL Network, that Lynch is mulling retirement.

But, Robinson added, “My bet would be that he plays next year in Seattle.”

That’s a bet the Seahawks need to embrace. They learned (again) how essential Lynch is in the playoffs. They don’t come back to beat Green Bay without him — not even close. He rushed for 157 yards, had the galvanizing 24-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter that gave them their first lead, and generally showed the sort of relentless will that makes him so essential to the team.

In the Super Bowl, Lynch was once again their most effective offensive weapon. The hue and cry over Pete Carroll’s decision not to give Lynch the ball at the end just underscores the faith that most observers had that he would have found a way, somehow, to reach the end zone.

A Seahawks’ offense without Lynch is a scary proposition. His presence, more than anyone else’s, helps gloss over other deficiencies.

That is not an unlimited phenomenon, of course; the reality that time is running out on Lynch’s career is undeniable. That the end might not be telegraphed is also a possibility. Veteran running backs have been known to be great one year, depleted the next, without any visible warning signs.

But the Seahawks need to try to coax another year out of Beast Mode, risks and all. So they sit back uneasily and wait for Marshawn Lynch to speak. And hope that the word they hear is “yes.”

Larry Stone: 206-464-3146 or

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