Oakland Raiders: 5 Questions Around Marshawn Lynch Possibly Signing

Sep 13, 2015; St. Louis, MO, USA; Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch (24) runs the ball against the St. Louis Rams during the first half at the Edward Jones Dome. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

With all of the talk surrounding Marshawn Lynch possibly joining the Oakland Raiders, here are five questions surrounding the potential move.

It’s only a matter of time before finding out whether or not Marshawn Lynch will officially be a member of the Oakland Raiders for the 2017 season. Despite numerous reports indicating the two sides had reached an agreement, other reports have emerged over the weekend about how a deal between Lynch and the Raiders is nowhere even close to happening.

Until something officially happens, any talk surrounding Lynch joining Oakland will simply be just speculation, but that doesn’t mean the possibility still isn’t going to be a hot topic of discussion. Think about it, if Lynch had zero intentions of completing his dream to play for the Raiders, he would have shutdown these talks a long time ago, which means there’s still a good chance this move happens.

For now, the only thing to do is analyze the advantages and disadvantages of Lynch being a member of the Raiders for the 2017 season to help fill their need at the running back position. As exciting as the return of Beast Mode to the NFL would be, here are five questions to consider between Lynch and the Raiders if the former running back does officially come out of retirement to play next season.

Nov 22, 2015; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch (24) sits on the bench during the fourth quarter of a 29-13 Seattle victory against the San Francisco 49ers at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

5. Will One Year of Retirement Hurt Lynch?

In typical Marshawn Lynch fashion, the former Seattle Seahawks running back came out of nowhere to announce his retirement by posting a photo of his football cleats from a telephone wire on social media on the same day as Super Bowl 50. At the time, nobody even considered the possibility of this move happening since Lynch still seemed to have a few effective years left in him at running back.

By only missing one season of football, there’s every reason in the world to believe Lynch shouldn’t have any issues getting back into tip-top shape if he were to suit up for the Oakland Raiders during the 2017 season. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t going to still be some concern over possible complications from Lynch’s year away from football.

Numerous professional athletes have found success making the return after retirement, but there have also been some cases of players struggling to return to their dominant form. Keep in mind that Lynch was limited to playing in just seven games during his final season with the Seattle Seahawks in 2015, and the Raiders have to at least be a little concerned over the possibility of him struggling to return to his old self.

Jan 17, 2016; Charlotte, NC, USA; Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch on the field with a training mask prior to facing the Carolina Panthers in the NFC Divisional round playoff game at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

4. Should Raiders Be Concerned Over Lynch’s Age?

Just like the possible concerns for the Oakland Raiders over Marshawn Lynch being away from football for a whole year, another reality surrounding Beast Mode is he’s not getting any younger. For a player that will be 31 by the time the regular season rolls around at the beginning of September, Lynch is at the stage of his career where most running backs tend to be on the decline, and rightfully so when seeing the toll it takes on their knees.

Prior to the start of the 2015 season, Lynch signed a hefty two-year, $24 million extension with the Seattle Seahawks, but for Oakland to pay him anywhere close to that kind of money after spending a year in retirement would be absolutely ridiculous. All things taken into consideration, Lynch is hopefully smart enough to realize that any chance of him suiting up for the Raiders would mean taking a massive pay cut, which shouldn’t be an issue after seeing the money he’s made throughout his career both on and off the field.

No matter how effective a running back may have been over the years, there is always a reason for concern once they hit the age of 30, and Lynch is no exception. If anything, the argument can be made that Lynch is at a major disadvantage for his age along with the factor of missing the entire 2016 season.

Dec 18, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders center Rodney Hudson (61) offensive guard Kelechi Osemele (70) react during the third quarter against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

3. How Will Offensive Line Hold Up?

Thanks to the presence of key players like Rodney Hudson and Donald Penn, the offensive line of the Oakland Raiders was considered one of the best in football during the 2016 season, and if all goes well, that will be the case once again next year. Between protecting Derek Carr, who will return after missing the end of last year due to a broken fibula, along with creating openings for the ground game, the Raiders’ offensive line will have plenty of work on their plates, as they look to help the offense rank near the top of the league for a second-straight season.

From the perspective of Marshawn Lynch, the possibility of joining a team with a strong offensive line like Oakland makes coming out of retirement even more intriguing, especially when seeing the struggles behind the Seattle Seahawks last season. Lynch wouldn’t even consider the possibility of joining the Raiders if he didn’t feel confident enough the team would set him up for success with reliable members on the offensive line.

With that being said, if Lynch does in fact sign with Oakland, the pressure will now be on the offensive line to do their part during the 2017 season. But if last year is any indication of what to expect from the offensive line, Lynch should be in good hands if he were to in fact join the Raiders.

Nov 19, 2016; Berkeley, CA, USA; Stanford Cardinal running back Christian McCaffrey (5) points to the sky in celebration after a touchdown against the California Golden Bears during the fourth quarter at Memorial Stadium. Stanford defeated California 45-31. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

2. Should Raiders Focus On RB in Draft Instead?

Many have criticized the Oakland Raiders for trying to fill their need at running back by considering Marshawn Lynch since he would most likely only provide the team with an effective year or two at best. Lynch may seem like a solid option at the moment when looking at the potential surrounding this talented team to make a run at the Super Bowl, but would it be beneficial for the Raiders to focus on a running back that can be effective for years to come in the upcoming draft?

This year’s draft class is filled with plenty of talented running backs with potential such as Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey and Florida State’s Dalvin Cook that could easily make an impact during their rookie season in the NFL. While there’s a good chance Oakland will still consider drafting a running back even if Lynch does come on board, the last thing fans want to see happen is the team pass on a talented running back like McCaffery or Cook early on because of Beast Mode’s presence.

Whether Lynch ends up joining the team or not, the Raiders will have to address their need at running back at some point since the last thing they can afford to see happen is Derek Carr face more pressure to carry the offense with little support in the backfield. Adding Lynch would certainly take off some of that pressure with Carr, but for the sake of the team’s future, here’s to hoping they don’t miss out on a talented running back when the draft gets underway in a few weeks.

December 24, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) listens to head coach Jack Del Rio against the Indianapolis Colts during the first quarter at Oakland Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

1. Is Lynch Missing Piece to Super Bowl Run?

To watch the Oakland Raiders finally record a winning season in 2016 while earning a spot in the postseason, only to see an early exit against the Houston Texans while Derek Carr was forced to watch from the sidelines was absolutely heartbreaking for the team and its fans. With a healthy Carr under center, the argument can be made the Raiders would have figured out a way to defeat the Texans, but unfortunately there was nothing the team could do about the situation other than accept the terrible timing of their quarterback’s injury.

Assuming all goes well during his recovery process in the offseason with no setbacks, there’s a good chance Carr will find his name in consideration for the MVP award if he manages to play at a similar level like last year. In the 15 games he appeared in for Oakland, Carr threw for 3,937 passing yards with 28 touchdowns and just six interceptions.

Thanks to having one of the league’s top duos at wide receiver in Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree, it’s easy to see why the Raiders’ offense was considered one of the best in football with Carr under center. And as crazy as it sounds, just imagine how dangerous this offense could end up being if Marshawn Lynch officially comes out of retirement while returning to his level of dominance from his glory days with the Seattle Seahawks.

Oakland was already considered a potential team in the AFC to make a run at the Super Bowl after last year’s success. But throw the possibility of Lynch still being an elite running back into the mix, those Super Bowl odds will easily increase in no time.

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