Several weeks ago, it was announced that the Oakland Raiders had heavy interest in acquiring retired running back Marshawn Lynch. The feeling is mutual because Lynch, an Oakland native who went to Oakland Tech High and once scored five TDs at the Oakland Coliseum in high school title game there, has always been interested in playing for his hometown.
If the University of California product does play for the Raiders, he’d instantly boost their odds of winning the AFC, and even the Super Bowl.
Looking at online sportsbooks like BetOnline.ag, we currently see that the Raiders’ futures are set at +850 for winning the AFC, and +1800 for winning the Super Bowl.
Of course, these futures odds might improve if we get a definitive answer on whether or not Lynch is playing. But we don’t have one.
So what’s the holdup?
Lynch, Oakland Too Far Apart on Contract
Thanks to a recent San Francisco Chronicle tweet, we now know that a contract issue is what’s blocking the two sides from coming together.
Lynch is currently scheduled to make $9 million in base salary from the Seattle Seahawks if he comes out of retirement this season. But the Seahawks are fine with letting Lynch play on another team because they likely won’t be able to afford him anyway.
The good news for Oakland is that Beast Mode doesn’t expect them to pay him $9 million in the 2017-18 season. But he does think he’s worth at least $4.5 million, even coming directly out of retirement.
Here’s where the sticking point comes because the Raiders’ max offer is $3 million.
Oakland Needs an Answer before the NFL Draft
Lynch doesn’t have much time to decide whether or not he wants to play for the Raiders. Team general manager Reggie McKenzie says he needs an answer before the 2017 NFL Draft, which starts on April 27. McKenzie added that if he can’t get Lynch to commit by then, the team will seriously consider trading up to get a running back.
Compensating Seattle for Lynch
As mentioned before, the Seahawks aren’t dead-set on their former star playing with them this year. But they still own his rights, meaning the Raiders would have to compensate them to sign the 5-time Pro Bowler.
Seattle probably won’t ask for much in return because, again, they don’t have leverage based on the $9 million salary they don’t want to pay. But this adds yet another wrinkle in finishing a deal before the draft.
Expect Lynch to Play for the Raiders this Season
Despite the obstacles we just covered, odds are that Lynch and the Raiders will agree to a contract. As reported by the Chronicle, a $1.5 million difference isn’t enough to kill interest on either side. Furthermore, Oakland could pay Lynch a base salary worth $3m or less, and include incentives that allow him to work up to $4.5m or more.
The main reason why Oakland isn’t budging on the base salary is due to Lynch’s age since he’s 31 – a point when few running backs remain productive. In fact, only 10 running backs aged 31+ have rushed for 1,000 yards in a season.
But it is possible to perform well at this age, since Frank Gore (age 33) did it twice in 2014 and 2016. He also nearly did it again in 2015, rushing for 967 yards in his first season with the Indianapolis Colts. And given that Lynch had a full season to heal after retiring in 2015, he won’t have the usual season-to-season wear and tear.
Impact on Raiders Futures Betting
Oakland ended a 13-year playoff drought last season, going 12-4 and earning an AFC Wild Card berth. But one thing that was sorely lacking was a presence at running back. A committee of Latavius Murray (788 rushing yards), Jalen Richard (491 yards), and DeAndre Washington (467 yards) handled the workload.
But a healthy Lynch could immediately improve this aspect of the team. He rushed for 1,200 yards or more every season from 2011 to 2014. Injuries limited him to 417 rushing yards in 2015, but he’s had a full year off to recover.
While it’s unclear if Lynch will provide the same production for the Raiders this season, he definitely has a chance to help. That said, their +850 odds of winning the AFC are a slight bargain, given that they could soon be adding Lynch.