Just hours before the NFL’s deadline for teams to apply franchise tag designations, the Seattle Seahawks announced that running back Marshawn Lynch signed a multi-year Sunday evening.
Terms of the agreement were not disclosed by the team, but it is thought to be a four-year, $32 million deal, $17 million of which is guaranteed.
“We are excited to keep Marshawn as a part of what we are building,” Seahawks general manager John Schneider said in a statement. “This is what we were hoping for when we acquired him from Buffalo.”
By signing Lynch, the Seahawks return the identity of the team’s offense in 2011, and can now focus on signing other soon-to-be free agents that they’d like to bring back, including defensive end Red Bryant, running back Mike Robinson and tight end John Carlson.
The Seahawks also have the option of applying the franchise tag to someone like Bryant, although with the franchise tag number projected to be around $10.4 million for defensive ends, it seems unlikely.
Seattle reportedly offered Bryant a contract similar to what defensive tackle Brandon Mebane received a year ago, which included $9 million guaranteed.
After a slow first half of the season, Lynch caught fire during the second half of 2011, finishing with a career-high 1,204 yards and 13 total touchdowns – the first time a Seattle player rushed for over 1,000 yards since Shaun Alexander’s MVP season of 2005.
The Seahawks never planned to part with Lynch, who calls it “Beast mode” when he has his best performances. He turns 26 next month. Both Schneider and coach Pete Carroll indicated during the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis last week that the team planned on applying the franchise tag to the hard-running back, which carries with it a projected one-year restricted tender of $7.7 million, if a deal was not reach by today’s 1 p.m. deadline for franchise tag designations.
Since 2000, only twice have the Seahawks not used the franchise tag designation. Seattle did not use the franchise tag last year. But two years ago the Seahaws franchised kicker Olindo Mare.
“We have big plans for him being with us,” Carroll said last week in Indianapolis when asked about Lynch’s contract situation. “He knows that. And he understands that. And we’re just working it out right now.”