Schneider: Seahawks still uncertain if Lynch wants to play

RENTON — The Seattle Seahawks want running back Marshawn Lynch to be a part of their future — they even acknowledge a new contract will likely be necessary to make that happen — but what they don’t yet know is if Lynch wants to play football in 2015 and beyond.

“Obviously we think he’s a hell of player, we want to have him back,” Seahawks general manager John Schneider said on 710 ESPN Seattle Tuesday. “He knows that, his representatives know that. He knows that if he’s back, he’s not going to be playing at the same number he’s scheduled to make. He’s a guy that is a heartbeat guy that we’d love to have back. Now whether or not he wants to play next year, I can’t answer that. I don’t know if he knows at this juncture.”

Lynch, who will be 29 next season, is due $7 million in what is the final year of the four-year extension he signed in 2012, but Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said after the Super Bowl that the two sides are already talking about a contract extension. But despite enjoying one of his best seasons in 2014, rushing for 1,306 yards and a career-high 13 touchdowns, Lynch hasn’t yet made it clear to the Seahawks whether he wants to endure another season of being one of the NFL’s most physical backs.

“It’s hard for these guys, it’s a long season,” Schneider said. “We’ve played a lot of football these last two years, and especially the way this guy runs the ball — it’s taxing on his body. So he has to reset himself and get in that mind frame of, ‘OK, I’m ready to get moving here again and get prepared for another season of this.’ Obviously we’d like to have a decision as quickly as we could so we can move forward, but we’d love to have him back.”

Last season, Lynch held out at the start of training camp seeking a raise, when at the time it seemed more likely that the Seahawks would release an aging running back to save money in 2015 rather than give him a raise. While the Seahawks did give him a small pay increase by converting some bonuses into base salary, Schneider said they couldn’t do a new contract because of the precedent that would set.

“The thing everyone needs to know in regard to Marshawn with last year, he was in the middle of a four-year contract — two years (into it),” Schneider said. “That was just all about precedent. It wasn’t at all about whether we thought he was the No. 1 back or the No. 4 back or the No. 7 back when you’re negotiating contracts. It didn’t have anything to do with that; it just had to do with precedent. If we re-did a contract for Marshawn, everybody would be standing outside my office looking for a new contract whenever they wanted in their deals. He knows that, but he also knows he’s a huge part of what we’re doing. He’s just extremely important to what we have going on here.”

Now if Lynch wants a new deal, precedent will be on his side, as the Seahawks have routinely extended the contracts of key players a year before they hit free agency. The Seahawks likely are willing to do that with Lynch, but first they need to know if he plans on playing in 2015.

Of course Lynch isn’t the only key player on Seattle’s offense due a raise this offseason. For the first time in his young career, quarterback Russell Wilson is able to negotiate a new contract, and it is widely expected that the player who has for the past three seasons been the biggest bargain in the NFL will soon become one of the league’s highest-paid players.

But while Wilson is sure to be well compensated in his next deal, Schneider hinted that the Seahawks and their quarterback might be looking at outside-the-box ways to structure his deal that wouldn’t badly hinder their ability to stay competitive.

“First and foremost, there’s really no handbook for this job that we have, other than the fact that we’re going to do what’s best for the organization; that’s the No. 1 thing,” Schneider said. “I think Russell Wilson wants to win championships — we talk about being a consistent championship-caliber football team — and that means thinking outside the box a lot of times. We will do that with Russell. Russell knows there are certain dominoes that have to fall in place. I’ve talked to his agent now, much like several of our unrestricted free agents, and he knows, he gets it, he wants to win, he wants to win for a long time.

“I’m not going to get into the specifics of contract negations other than to say that we’re going to do what’s best for this organization moving forward first and foremost, and that does not mean that you just do exactly what everybody else has done around the league. I think we’ve proven that we do things in the manner we want to attack it.”

Seto promoted

A day after announcing several coaching moves, including the promotion of defensive backs coach Kris Richard to defensive coordinator, the Seahawks promoted another assistant, giving Rocky Seto the title of assistant head coach/defense. Offensive line coach Tom Cable also holds an assistant head coach title on Seattle’s staff.

Seto, who has been working under Carroll since 2001, has been the Seahawks’ defensive passing game coordinator for the past two seasons. He, along with Richard, oversaw the league’s top secondary with cornerback Richard Sherman, and safeties Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor all earning multiple All-Pro and Pro-Bowl honors dating back to 2011.

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