Seahawks re-sign Marshawn Lynch to 4-year deal

SEATTLE — The question wasn’t so much whether Marshawn Lynch would be a Seahawk next season, but rather what the long-term future held for the running back.

And on Sunday, the Seahawks announced that Lynch will be a part of the team’s long-term plans, and not just their immediate future, having signed him to a multi-year contract.

“We are excited to keep Marshawn as part of what we are building,” general manager John Schneider said in a release from the team. “This is what we were hoping for when we acquired him from Buffalo.”

Lynch, 25, could have become an unrestricted free agent later this month had the Seahawks not signed him, but Schneider told reporters at the NFL scouting combine last month that the team was prepared to use the franchise tag on Lynch if the two sides couldn’t agree on a contract. So there was little doubt that Lynch would play for Seattle next season, but both sides were hoping to avoid the franchise tag and work out a multi-year deal.

And a day before the deadline to use the franchise tag, the Seahawks and Lynch agreed to a deal that, according to a league source, is worth $31 million over four years with $17 million in guaranteed money. Had the Seahawks franchised Lynch, he would have made more than $7 million next season, then been a free agent in 2013.

Lynch, who Seattle acquired in a trade with the Buffalo Bills in 2010, is coming off of the best season of his career, rushing for 1,204 yards and 12 touchdowns. He was a big part of Seattle’s second-half turnaround in 2011, rushing for 100 or more yards in six of Seattle’s final nine games. Lynch, Seattle’s first 1,000-yard rusher since 2005, also established a franchise record by scoring touchdowns in 11 straight games, and made the Pro Bowl as an alternate.

His hard-nosed style came to define an offense that, after struggling to find its way in the first half of the season, found success later in the year by committing to the run under the guidance of offensive line coach Tom Cable. Lynch also became a inspirational leader in a young locker room.

“The ferocity that he ran with and how he matched up the challenge that he was getting in the piles at the line of scrimmage from these guys was just emblematic of who he was and what he was all season long,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said after the final game of the season. “His willingness to fight and claw and scratch for every inch is exactly what you want your football players to play like.”

Herald Writer John Boyle: jboyle@heraldnet.com.

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