BY Art Thiel 04:33PM 02/18/2016

Thiel: Drama-free time worth $5M to Seahawks

The Seahawks took a pass on getting reimbursed for a $5 million bonus paid RB Marshawn Lynch, who is retiring early. Given his contributions, it’s a steal at twice the price.

His teammates could not get enough of the Beast. / Drew Sellers, Sportspress Northwest

News this week that the Seahawks will not pursue reimbursement for a $5 million signing bonus given to retiring RB Marshawn Lynch explains at least a little, if not a lot, about why some peace has come to the Seahawks this off-season.

The club is unlikely to announce anything, but Ian Rapoport of the house organ tweeted that the club won’t pursue the money they are entitled to if Lynch did not play to the end of his contract. The amount will count against the Seahawks 2016 salary cap.


It helps explain why Lynch, who has been contentious with management over his compensation for the last few seasons, tweeted in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl that he was done, using an artful image of his cleats hung upon a wire to wordlessly symbolize the end of a spectacular career.

He kept $5 million likely by not being a beast.

Settling the matter quickly and amicably in front of the football world can only help both sides, particularly the Seahawks, who were publicly jerked around by Lynch at the end of his recovery from hernia surgery before the first playoff game at Minnesota.

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll told a radio audience the Friday before the game that Lynch would return following a good week of practice. But the night before, Lynch told teammates he wasn’t physically ready to play.

“Not surprised,” WR Doug Baldwin told reporters before a practice the following week in preparation for a trip to Charlotte. “He told us. I talked to him Thursday. He said he had to run on Friday morning with the trainers to see if he could deal with it.”

In football as well as most any business, it’s not good to make the boss look bad. In this case, Carroll appeared to be out of touch with what was going on. It was hardly the first time regarding Lynch, but is an image he dislikes severely.

Lynch severely dislikes, as Carroll put it a couple of years earlier, “being told what to do.” That dynamic created a fair amount of tension between player and coach/management. Ironically, it probably served the team well that Lynch shunned talking to local media, because he might have said something, oblique or direct, that lit a fire the team would have had to expend energy to put out.

Lynch finally played, of course, in the season’s clumsy finale, wherein the Seahawks fell behind the Panthers 31-0 by halftime, rendering moot the the running game. Lynch’s career ended weakly with 20 yards on six carries.

Absent a trite Hollywood ending, it was nevertheless remarkable that the Seahawks drew out the maximum from Lynch with a relatively small amount of drama. A hold-out here, a mid-game, middle-finger salute there, the threat of NFL fines ever-present, Lynch pushed the envelope but never burst through — one of the few things in Lynch’s life that such a thing can be said about.

The tight-rope walk done, appreciation of the majesty of Lynch’s feats can now take the spotlight. A fresh way appeared this week when former Seattle Post-Intelligencer colleague Ted Miller, now of, did a retro look at one of Lynch’s most memorable feats in college.

Lynch’s subsequent pro career overshadowed the event, but on Oct. 21, 2006, his Cal Bears beat Washington 31-24 in overtime in Berkeley. Lynch’s 22-yard touchdown run provided a lead in OT that was preserved with a final-play interception of Huskies backup QB Carl Bonnell (starter Isaiah Stanback was injured).

It was after the game that Lynch displayed his independent ways that would become a national hallmark. In celebration, Lynch jumped into a sideline cart and drove crazily and hilariously around the field, finally stopping in front of the student section for a salute.

Miller chronicled the episode through the words of teammates and coaches from both teams, which is an amusing read. But he also garnered glimpses from several who shed light on what an astonishing athlete Lynch was in college.

Zack Follett, Cal teammate and former NFL LB:

I remember we were all in the weight room during the summer and we were cleaning, trying to set the record at 315. We’re all doing it, struggling, some guys got it. Marshawn walks in. He’s in street clothes — jeans, his Jordans. He walks up to the bar, just straight out of class, throws his dreads back and cleans this thing, then throws it on the ground and walks out of the weight room. Like no warm-up. He’s just on another level.

Ron Gould, Cal running backs coach (1997-2011):

Pound for pound, he is the strongest human being I’ve ever seen.

Jeff Tedford, Cal coach, 2002-2012:

He could do everything. He could stand there and do a backflip. He could run with power. He could run with speed. He had unbelievable balance. He caught the ball as well as any receiver caught the ball. He had a good feel for running pass routes. Physical, fast, great balance, really sharp, smart guy. I can’t remember any mental mistakes that would stick out.

Desmond Bishop, Cal teammate, Washington Redskins LB:

During camp, tensions were flaring, and coach says, “OK, we’re going to go live. Let’s get it over with.” I’m such a competitor; I thought this was an opportunity to show them the defense runs the team. The first play, (Marshawn) got the ball and I read it perfectly. He came through the line, and I hit him as hard as I could — clean, but as hard as I could — and I just bounced off. I got up thinking that there was metal under his skin.

As Seahawks fans and the NFL will attest, Lynch’s abilities only intensified as a pro. He became as formidable an adversary as the NFL has seen, as genuine a teammate as any Seahawks player has experienced, and an occasional pain in the butt to club and NFL management.

A $5 million bonus? Oh, hell yes.



  • Paul Harmening

    The subjects been mildly continuous. Mike Salk of ESPN’s sulknhurd kinda sorta would like to get the bucks back for new contract makeovers or salary cap increase or whatever. A few join him in that regard.

    Art, I think you sort of nailed the coffin shut. A deal that even Trump might have made. If nothing else, wasn’t the Beast Quake run that shook the Puget Sound’s seismic meter worth it?

    • art thiel

      It’s not that $5M couldn’t be used in 2016. But it’s about two percent of the cap. Not a season-breaker.

  • SeaRaays

    Why …is there a salary cap…when we have a owner like Allen. In this situation this should have a Bird exemption. The Seahawks really need the cap room this season to make up some neglect on the O line!

    • art thiel

      The NFL has 32 owners who are ruthless capitalists six days a week, On Sunday, they’re all socialists.

  • 1coolguy

    Lynch was a darned good back but frankly, with the improvement of RW’s game & Rawls, we won’t miss him much, if at all. Time to move on and put all the “Lynch being Lynch” BS behind us.

    • art thiel

      Perhaps. It would have happened sometime. But the intimidation factor is goooone.

  • MacPhisto92

    See kids….don’t listen to authority…do what you want to do…..F the rules, and you too can be handed $5 million

    • Ken Sharratt

      See kids…be yourself.

      • Jeff Shope

        You mean a spoiled brat?

        • art thiel

          How about being an original thinker? Can’t have that, can we?

    • art thiel

      If every kid did it, then it wouldn’t be anti-authority, because there would be no authority.

      Contrarians are what made America. Or would you prefer a king instead of a president?

      • Pixdawg13

        Only if it were himself.

  • Jamo57

    Let Lynch keep the $ and deposit it in his savings account, which is probably where it’s headed if the reporting is correct. He was worth every penny. Shoot, Harvin was worth every penny. They won a friggin’ championship folks, the likes of which this town hadn’t seen in 35 years. 35! Paul Allen got a return on the money many times over too, truth be told

    • art thiel

      That’s a realistic way of looking at it. It’s how salaries of movie stars are seen.

      • Jamo57

        You know Art, that has crossed my mind a number of times before. No one bitches about what Leonardo DiCaprio makes (though it was Jack Nicholson when it first occurred to me. LOL).

        • art thiel

          Few players are truly difference-makers. He was, and was also very different.

  • DJ

    Oh, man, the view from his time in college is really something special! It, of course, is expected that when someone excels in the NFL, they had to have been even more unique and special at the previous level. What is really appreciated is that with all of his god given talent, and so different from anyone else, he’s a humble dude.
    Cheers to Beast Mode! …and remember, you don’t feel Beast Mode, Beast Mode feels you!
    Thanks Art! Will definitely check out Ted’s article

    • art thiel

      Feel free to grab your crotch as you read.

      • DJ

        Too funny!!

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  • Jeff Shope

    One of best backs I ever saw but m,an is he a drama queen

    • art thiel

      Too bad he doesn’t fit your cookie cutter.

      • Pixdawg13

        nice accurate shot, art. Hulled ‘im.

  • Kevin Lynch

    Am I reading this right? That the option to pursue the bonus is still on the table and that should he sign with another team….if so, this is clever and worth it for the Hawks.

    • art thiel

      He hasn’t filed his retirement papers. So there’s a chance . . .

  • DJ

    Yeah, right! – now I can’t get the smirk off my face!

  • osoviejo

    Once the Seahawks decided to move on from Lynch (i.e. they welcomed his retirement), there was never any question about the bonus money. The last thing the Seahawks would want to do is try to extract it, have Lynch unretire, and then be forced to cut him–a fruitless and annoying exercise for everyone that ends with Lynch keeping the bonus money anyway.

  • Warchild_70

    The Beastie walked it like he talked it. Very savvy with his money, a huge heart for his Oakland City what more could you ask for? Yea a pain in the tukus for sure however, I did see a twinkle in his eyes with that interview with Prime Time. I saw on Shark Tank his reaction first seeing his new aquarium it was so Beastie. The Pepsi commercial was a cute one and he told everyone to stop freak-in’ and call Beakin. Yes he’ll be remembered and passed on to my great grand kids about the most fearsome tail back to put on Sea Hawk blue.

  • JimC

    Geez, if if came down to it, I bet Seattle fans would pass the basket to get Lynch his 5 million.

  • He fits my cookie cutter NFL back: Fast, elusive, brutally physical, great teammate, personality. Sour grapes, or jealousy, if you can’t see all that after all he did for, and brought to, Seattle.