The more you think about Marshawn Lynch to the Oakland Raiders, the more you start to realize that the potential roster move is about an exit strategy and not necessarily the football field.
Yes, the Raiders need a running back, and their fans will be very excited if Oakland does land the former All-Pro, but that’s all based on the belief that Lynch will magically turn back the clock to 2014.
Most forget that Lynch looked like a shell of his former self during his final season in Seattle, running for 417 yards before being shut down after seven games with a sports hernia injury.
A battered and banged-up Lynch looked like he had virtually no juice left in his legs, especially when compared to undrafted rookie Thomas Rawls, who entered the lineup and provided the Seattle offense with some much-needed energy.
Instead of resting up for a potential return, however, Lynch spent most of his year away from the NFL traveling and participating in various reality-television stunts.
And there’s a good reason for that, Lynch likely thought he really was done and went about enjoying his life until it seeped in that he could be the final piece of a Super Bowl puzzle for his hometown team.
From the Oakland’s perspective, though, why would you want a 30-year-old RB with the most physical running style of his generation instead of a 21- or 22-year-old cheaper option in the deepest running back draft in years?
The answer to that is simple: Las Vegas.
The Raiders are on their way to Sin City, but the club’s new $2 billion venue isn’t scheduled to be ready until the 2020 season, meaning Mark Davis’ team has to play somewhere for the next three years.
Davis had already agreed to two year-by-year leases to continue playing in the Coliseum before he was granted permission to bolt.
But, now with the divorce official, the Raiders owner has to deal with his jilted constituents, which include both local politicians, who don’t want his team around any longer, and many Bay Area fans, who don’t want their beloved Raiders to leave the area.
It’s almost an untenable position that could get very ugly very quickly, especially if a team considered to be a legitimate contender, all of a sudden starts underperforming.
So, what better way to nip that potential in the bud then by bringing Oakland’s favorite son into the fold just as the Mayflower vans are being reserved?
Lynch has now reportedly started the reinstatement process in hopes of joining his hometown team, one the Seahawks, who still own the RB’s rights, will make go as smoothly as possible because they want nothing to do with the $9 million cap hit Lynch’s presence would bring to their organization.
The Raiders will also not be paying Lynch $9 million, so the final hurdle here is what Davis feels a goodwill shell game is ultimately worth.
And if Lynch can actually play? Well, that’s just gravy.
-John McMullen is a national football columnist for FanRagSports.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen Also catch John each week during the NFL season ESPN South Jersey, ESPN Southwest Florida, ESPN Lexington, CBS Baltimore, KDWN in Las Vegas, and check @JFMcMullen for John’s upcoming appearances on SB Nation Radio, FOX Sports Radio, CBS Sports Radio as well as dozens of local radio stations across North America.