When starter Chris Carson and backup C.J. Prosise were lost to season-ending injuries last Sunday against the Cardinals, the front office of the Seahawks could have scanned the waiver wire, promoted a rookie or pulled off a trade made out of desperation.
They did none of the above. They simply flipped through their contact list and called one of the most celebrated players in franchise history.
And Marshawn Lynch wasn’t really doing much of anything, just kind of hanging out with his fellas. So he decided to accept the Seahawks offer to rejoin the team as it approaches the most formative part of its season.
“Happy holidays,” Lynch said to reporters last week. “Merry New Year. Y’all have a great day. It’s a great feeling to be back. Thank you.”
Just like Lynch. He’s never been a particularly loquacious man. In fact, he was prone to long periods of silence during his career when it came to interacting with the media. But you could tell he was happy to be back in the NFL.
Lynch was one of the lynchpins of the Seahawks offense during their runs to Super Bowl XLVIII and Super Bowl XLIX. He first retired after the 2015 season, then returned in 2017 with the Raiders. That’s where he was in 2018 when his season was cut short by a groin injury that required surgery.
“He’s highly motivated to do everything you can do in this game,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said of Lynch, who was with the team from 2010-15. “He really is. He wants to do everything you can possibly do. He knew he wasn’t done. He got in a situation where he was injured, and he had to rehab and all that. It just didn’t fit together right away. He’s not done playing and he wants to go. This is his entrée and he’s going to go for it. He won’t hold back. He won’t hold back one bit. We look forward to seeing what happens.”
The Seahawks hope Lynch, now 33 years old, who hasn’t had a carry in over a year, has enough productivity left to help them win the NFC West on Sunday against the 49ers and then carry them deep into the playoffs.
“He’s an extraordinary person,” Carroll said of Lynch. “He’s just been through so much, and we know him as well as I think you could know a guy, and what he brings and what he offers and all. He brings a lot to the table. He’s as physical of a player as I’ve ever been around, as great of a competitor as I’ve ever been around. So when you get to add somebody like that to your team, it only helps and enhances kind of the mentality that we already cherish.”
Lynch had been on hold with the Seahawks front office for about a month. The Athletic reported he was hanging out at the team’s practice facility on Dec. 11, just chatting up his friends within the organization. Perhaps that fostered the idea to reach out to him when Rashaad Penny, who was backing up Carson, torn an ACL. Things then sped up when Carson fractured his hip and Prosise broke an arm.
After putting Lynch through a mandatory physical, they signed him and sent him out to the practice field on Tuesday where he participated in light workouts. Lucky for him, his customary No. 24 was still available.
“We’ll find out how he can play and how he does,” Carroll said. “It’s been a little while off. He looks great in [our] first couple of looks at him as far as his conditioning and all that. His weight’s down and he’s in a really good spot for coming and going for it. He was very serious about getting ready for this opportunity. The stroke of misfortune in some regards really opens up the door, which happens at times. He’s ready to take the full opportunity at hand and see what he can do to help us.”
The Seahawks are not expecting Lynch for a carry the ball 25 times on Sunday. They signed another back, Robert Turbin, this week and have Travis Homer, a sixth-round pick, to share the load.
“I hope that they can contribute,” Carroll said. “Travis is ready to go. He’s knows everything. He’s been through all of our system for the whole year. He showed that he was ready to play football, and he did a good job in the game. We lean on him because of his background with us and his toughness and his speed and his playmaking. We’re pleased to have that opportunity. That’s good fortune to have him ready to go. And then we’ll just fit the guys in. Give me a couple days here. This is like the first day.”
If the Seahawks beat the 49ers, they could wind up with any of the NFC’s top three seeds. A loss will land them fifth with a wild card road trip next week to either Dallas or Philadelphia.
“It’s freakin’ great if he can get out there and tote the ball for us,” Carroll said Monday on his weekly radio show. “The circumstances rolled just at this time. He could have 4-5 games left in him, maybe that’s just what we need.”
What’s certain is, Lynch has always been the perfect back for Seahawks ground game, their go-to weapon. He runs with his pads down and no apparent fear.
“There was nobody that ever amplified the kind of mentality and toughness that we like to play with,” Carroll said. “If we get a chance to get the Beast back on the field, we’ll see how that works.”