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Grey Area: New deal for Lynch? Unwise and unlikely

By Michael Grey

The news broke late on Wednesday that Marshawn Lynch – who didn't attend the Seahawks' White House visit or organized team activities to this point – might be setting the stage for a holdout next week during mandatory minicamp due to unhappiness with his contract.

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As valuable as Marshawn Lynch has been to the Seahawks, giving into his reported desire for a new deal would set a bad precedent for the rest of the team. (AP)
As with anything involving Lynch, there are far more questions than answers, but is it really possible that even the mercurial Lynch has gone from being "all about that action, boss" to being all about the transaction between February and June? Further, if the reports prove to be true, should the Seahawks capitulate to Lynch's demands and pay him more than his current salary, which makes him one of the five highest-paid running backs in the league?

Lynch has been incredibly valuable to this team, but it just doesn't fit the mold of what we know about coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider to think that they make a move like that. When does "Always Compete" become "Sometimes Compete Unless You're Unhappy With Your Deal"? No one, not even Lynch, is bigger than the team.

On Wednesday's edition of "Wyman, Mike and Moore" we talked to plenty of Seahawks fans that can note chapter and verse what Lynch has done to this point in his career, but you don't pay someone more money for what they've done, you pay them more money for what they're going to do. And that's where this gets interesting. Lynch has been a warhorse – no one could deny that – but the numbers for running backs after age 27 are not encouraging.

From ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert: "Overall, we see their careers peak at age 27. Afterward, their rushing totals drop by 15 percent in one year, 25 percent in two and almost 40 by the time they are 30. Most decision-makers – whether their background was in scouting, accounting or anything in between – saw that trend as a bad investment. As with any business, they reserve premium contracts for projected growth in production, not a decline."

It's not a coincidence that Robert Turbin was drafted by Seattle in 2012 and that Christine Michael and Spencer Ware were both taken in 2013. The Seahawks know that holdout or no holdout, Lynch's days are numbered and that they cannot afford to sacrifice the identity of this team's running attack for his absence. They need a running back (or two) to step up and produce – now, not later – and that would be true if Lynch were at the team's headquarters as we speak.

Can any of the running backs on Seattle's roster produce like Lynch? Truth is that we just don't know, but signing a back, any back, to a deal bigger than Lynch's when they're on the wrong side of 28 and still have two years left on a deal doesn't make sense. It also betrays what we know Carroll to be about as a head coach. Time and time again, the "next man up" philosophy has given one time backups or never-weres a chance to emerge as stars. Time and time again, it's worked.

Add to all of that the league-wide erosion of the value of running backs and a new deal becomes even more unwise. Look no further than the fact that no team has drafted a running back in the first round the last two years to get an accurate valuation of the position from the league's decision makers. During Lynch's career, the value of the position has done nothing but depreciate.

Marshawn Lynch holds a special place in the hearts of the 12th Man, and for good reason, but if the mantras that led this team to a championship remain in place in 2014 I don't know how you elevate one player – even Beast Mode – to a point higher than the team.

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