By Nate Leer
There are more and more rumblings that Marshawn Lynch may not be retiring. He certainly has not made it official. With his high cap number and Seattle’s stable of young – though unproven – RBs, Lynch returning to Seattle seems unlikely. While a trade is not impossible, that is not how the NFL tends to work, especially late in the offseason with a large contract in play.
It has been widely reported that Lynch has never spent any of his league money, close to $50 million. He may not be looking to break the bank if he plays in 2016 but rather looking for the right situation and avoiding offseason organized work. If he is willing to play for a contender or other preferred team for close to $5 million on a one-year contract, Lynch would look good for a long list of teams. Even at a number closer to what Seattle owes him, in the range of 8-10 million, there may be plenty of interest.
Below is a look at spots that would make good fits for Lynch and have some level of need. Lynch’s off-field antics may turn off some teams but he has been a pretty solid pro in recent years and the PR risk is minimized by the short term nature of any likely contract.
Teams’ cap space according to http://www.spotrac.com/nfl/cap/:
- Oakland – $9.7M – Lynch’s hometown would be an ideal landing spot. Team’s prefer to go into the season with a chunk of cap space to use for in-season signings. That said, Oakland would not have a lot of money to offer Lynch without cutting someone. Maybe Lynch takes $5 million to stay home or maybe Oakland can clear a little space by cutting someone like Latavius Murray. Picture Derek Carr being able to play off of run action to push the ball downfield to Amari Cooper. Lynch could help take this whole offense up another notch.
- New England – $10.1M – If Lynch just wants to win, this may be the most interesting destination. Again, they wouldn’t be able to make a big offer but could cut Blount and upgrade the power back role.
- New York Giants – $18.1M – Lynch could be the missing piece for a team that has quality passing game components and spent a lot of money to shore up their D. New York still has the money to spend this year to bring in Lynch and a year or two in the Big Apple would be a perfect boost to Beast Mode’s off-field endeavors. Lynch may not have been a good fit under former coach Tom Coughlin but the new regime would seem to be much less old-fashioned and Lynch could be the key to taking the offense and the whole team to an near-elite level.
- Miami – $10.7M – Miami would appear to have the most need even with Jay Ajayi reportedly taking control of the lead back role early in camp. This may push Miami to spend a larger amount of their cap space than the team ahead of them are willing to do. Arian Foster might fit the offense a little better but Lynch is the more recently highly productive player.
- Carolina – $29M – Though Jonathan Stewart had a good year, this team would be better on paper with Lynch. With the cap room they have he could be a perfect one-year investment for a team that like to run the ball right at opponents. Adding Kelvin Benjamin and Lynch to Cam’s potent offense from last year would be create a real-life and fantasy powerhouse!
- Detroit – $13.3M – This would be an ideal all-around fit for Detroit – need, cap space, team that could use positive offensive developments. Whether Lynch would want to play in Detroit versus on one of the coasts as well as for a team that looks to be a bottom-half of the league type of team is another question. Although Detroit could offer $10 million reasons to love Michigan. Detroit could get rid of Stevan Ridley immediately with Ameer Abdullah and/or Theo Riddick as perfect complements to Lynch as the power back.
- San Francisco – $48.9M – Lynch would seem to be an upgrade over Carlos Hyde and San Fran has plenty of money to spend. Plus Lynch would be able to stay near his home in the Bay Area. The questions would be how much Chip Kelly likes Lynch more than Hyde especially considering Hyde could be a long-term asset and how important winning is to Lynch. Kelly’s spread offense would look good with a power back in Lynch and a mobile QB.
Other less likely fits: Chicago – seem to be getting younger, not older; Washington – could use a vet RB, like splash moves, very little cap space.
Anywhere Lynch lands he is a high-risk, high-reward player for fantasy who will probably be drafted too high. If anything, he may be worth targeting in trade if he starts of slowly in 2016. Moving to a new team and enjoying his offseason may make the transition tough early on. However, Lynch could get it going after some time to acclimate to a new team and knock the rust off.