It’s no secret that teams are leery of giving running backs long-term contracts beyond the deals they signed as rookies. The shelf life is too short and the risk outweighs the potential for reward. Plus, most backs are of the dime-a-dozen variety. Why not just let your veteran halfback walk and replace him with a younger, shinier and cheaper one?
But today has been good for backs in search of second contracts.
Two 25-year-old rushers coming off of 1,200-yard seasons were signed to long-term deals on Monday, with both potentially avoiding the franchise tag while guaranteeing themselves financial security (presumably) for the rest of their lives.
Earlier, Sean Tomlinson elaborated on the deal given to Arian Foster in Houston. And now, I’ll elaborate on the deal given to Marshawn Lynch in Seattle, blessed with the opportunity to compare his new contract to the one signed by Foster.
What’s amazing is that while the guys like Matt Forte and Ray Rice continue to lose their battles for long-term deals, Lynch earned his in Seattle despite being inferior to those backs for much of the last four seasons. One hot stretch in the right place at the right time can do anything for a player, and Lynch — who reportedly signed for $31 million over four years with $17 million guaranteed — now exemplifies that phenomenon.
For much of his first season in Seattle (2010), Lynch struggled mightily. He averaged just 3.5 yards per carry, picking up just 573 yards in 12 games (11 starts). But he seemed to glean some electricity from that earth-shattering run against the Saints in the 2010 playoffs, and was one of the hottest backs in the league for much of the 2011 campaign.
It’s hard to believe Lynch is only 25, because it just feels like he’s been around a while. He does have less tread on his tires than Foster, which is probably why he’s getting less guaranteed money over a shorter time period. But Seahawks general manager John Schneider was still confident enough in Lynch to invest in him for years to come, rather than lazily insulting him with the franchise tag (which would have only cost the team about $7.5 million).
The key, too, might have been that getting a deal done with Lynch was ultimately easier than it would have been with impending free agent Red Bryant. Now, there’s a good chance they slap the versatile defensive end with the tag before today’s 4:00 p.m. ET deadline.
And in doing so, Seattle would ensure that two key cogs from 2011 will once again be wearing steel blue in 2012.