Frank Gore is not the only big-time running back in the NFC West who apparently will require a new contract to return to his team next season.
The future is also uncertain for running back Marshawn Lynch, the key piece of the offense that led the Seattle Seahawks to back-to-back Super Bowl appearances.
“We want him back. He knows that. His representatives know that,” Seahawks general manager John Schneider said Tuesday on ESPN 710 Seattle radio. “He knows if he’s back he’s not going to be playing at the same number he was scheduled to make.”
Lynch was a contract holdout for the first eight days of training camp last summer. The Seahawks did not reward him a new contract after just two years of his original four-year contract, Schneider said, because they were not going to set a precedent.
“If we re-did a contract for Marshawn, everybody would be standing outside of my office looking for a new contract whenever they wanted it,” Schneider said.
But with one season remaining on a contract that is set to pay him $5 million in base salary and a $2 million roster bonus, the Seahawks are looking to sign Lynch to an extension that would provide him more money next season and reduce his scheduled $8.5 million cap number.
But, first, Lynch must decide if he wants to continue to play football.
“Whether or not he wants to play next year, I can’t answer that,” Schneider said. “I don’t know if he knows at this juncture.
“He needs to find out where he’s at. It’s hard for these guys. It’s a long season. We’ve played a lot of football in the last two years. And especially the way this guy runs the ball. It’s taxing on his body. 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.’ ”
Schneider said he hopes Lynch decides what he wants to do soon, but acknowledged “it may not happen overnight.”
Lynch, who turns 29 in April, has rushed for at least 1,200 yards and 11 touchdowns in each of the past four seasons with the Seahawks. In 2014, he gained 1,306 yards and 13 touchdowns – with another four touchdowns on receptions.
Meanwhile, Gore, who turns 32 in May, is scheduled to become a free agent for the first time in his 10-year NFL career, which has consisted of eight 1,000-yard seasons with the 49ers. Gore earned $6.45 million both of the past two seasons, but will probably have to accept less money to return to the 49ers in 2015.