Unpredictable Marshawn Lynch and Packers: A 2017 Fit?

The Oakland Raiders are sniffing around former Seattle Seahawks superstar running back Marshawn Lynch in hopes of luring him out of retirement. According to some NFL insiders, Lynch may be interested.

If Lynch is interested in joining the Raiders, it’s easy to connect the dots for the Packers. Green Bay general manager Ted Thompson wanted to draft Lynch in 2007 and tried to trade for him in 2010.

Let’s explore the fit and history between Marshawn Lynch and the Packers, and make a judgment once the facts are in.

Green Bay would have to pay twice for Marshawn Lynch

Super Bowl Lynchs Hats Football

Trading Lynch to the Oakland Raiders is a safer trade for them than trading him to Green Bay. Much like when the Packers sent Brett Favre to the Jets, Seattle would want to avoid helping a director competitor in their conference improve as much as possible.

It makes sense why the Raiders would inquire about the retired running back. Oakland lost running back Latavius Murray to the Vikings in free agency, and breakout rookie Jalen Richard needs help in 2017. They have reportedly offered a conditional seventh round pick to the Seahawks for Lynch.

Then, his contract is another measure. If he were to have played in 2016, his contract called for him to make $9 million. It’s unlikely given the market for free agent running backs that he could reach that number again, but it’s the starting point for negotiations.

Is Marshawn Lynch a good fit for the Packers?

The Packers need their running backs to do three things:

  1. Pass protect
  2. Catch passes
  3. Create mismatches with a variety of skills

Marshawn Lynch is solid as a pass protector and catcher, and was one of the league’s hardest players to tackle during his career. In 2017, though, he could be a premium version of Eddie Lacy.

If you don’t see the similarities between the two, ask quarterback Aaron Rodgers. He played with both Lynch and Lacy.

“Eddie (Lacy) is a very similar back as far as not being taken down with the first defender, running through arm tackles, his ability to catch the ball and make something happen as well,” Rodgers told reporters in the week before the Seahawks and Packers met for the NFC Championship. “And both Marshawn and Eddie are great blockers in pass protection.”

Lynch’s skillset is different enough from the incumbent starting running back Ty Montgomery, but so are most of the free agents available. Those veteran backs still around all have significant flaws:

  • Adrian Peterson, 32 years old: Missed 2015 season because of child abuse indictment and injured for most of the 2016 season. He is not a good blocker or pass catcher.
  • Jamaal Charles, 31 years old: Played 290 snaps in the last two years because of knee injuries. His game depends on speed and elusiveness to make plays.
  • Marshawn Lynch, 31 years old: Retired after 2015 season, when abdominal injury kept him out of 9 games. He has had significant off field issues throughout his career.
  • LeGarrette Blount, 30 years old: Averaged under 4.0 yards per carry last season. He seems to be good only in New England and in the right down and distance.
  • DeAngelo Williams, 34 years old: Thrived in spot duty with Pittsburgh, but well past the age where most running backs start to slow down.

Ted Thompson coveted Marshawn Lynch in the 2007 NFL Draft

Remember that infamous YouTube video after the Packers selected defensive tackle Justin Harrell with the 16th pick of the 2007 NFL Draft? Well, that video never would have happened if not for those pesky Buffalo Bills.

Ted Thompson and the Packers front office coveted Marshawn Lynch in the draft. Jason Wilde in the Wisconsin State Journal reported in April 2007 that Thompson met with Lynch one-on-one at the NFL scouting combine and, in a rare move, even brought Lynch to Green Bay for an in-person, pre-draft interview.

When Green Bay selected fifth overall a year before, Thompson called pre-draft interviews “overkill” in a 2006 report by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Tom Silverstein.

“Usually you bring in a guy your doctor might want to look at again for a particular reason or you might have a question that didn’t get answered,” Thompson said in the 2006 article. “You interview a whole bunch of guys at the combine and you might want to talk to somebody again."

The Packers, according to Silverstein in 2014, brought Lynch in to ensure he would be comfortable playing in Green Bay.

The Bills selected Lynch with the 12th pick. It caused the Packers to go to Plan B, and they selected Harrell. After the draft, Thompson told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Bob McGinn the two sides did not have a “substantive conversation” before the selection.

Buffalo almost traded Marshawn Lynch to the Packers in 2010 for A.J. Hawk

Green Bay’s Super Bowl campaign in 2010 started with a thud at running back. Starter Ryan Grant exited the season’s first game with a season-ending injury, leaving the Packers with fullback John Kuhn and backup running back Brandon Jackson.

Meanwhile in Buffalo, Marshawn Lynch was the third fiddle alongside starter Fred Jackson and rookie first-rounder C.J. Spiller. He wanted to play closer to Oakland, and Buffalo was the opposite of close.

He had also worn out his welcome, too. Lynch was involved in a hit-and-run in 2008 and was accused in January 2010 for stealing $20 from a woman’s purse.

The smoke surrounding a trade became a fire when Buffalo visited Lambeau Field in Week 2.

"We were running off the field -- it was halftime, actually," Packers tight end Jermichael Finley said in a 2016 interview. "Me and (Aaron) Rodgers were running to the locker room and Lynch came over, hit us on the shoulder and said, 'Tell Ted Thompson to come get me.'”

The Bills were blown out 34-7 by the Packers, falling to 0-2 on the season. The Packers, meanwhile, got almost nothing on the ground from Kuhn and Jackson.

Allen Wilson of The Buffalo News reported two days later that talks of a trade of Lynch for Packers linebacker A.J. Hawk were intensifying.

Talks broke down, and Lynch was traded to the Seahawks two weeks later for a 2011 fourth-round pick and conditional 2012 fifth round pick.

Could a 2017 trade for Marshawn Lynch to the Packers happen?

There are Lloyd Christmas “so you’re telling me there’s a chance” type of odds that Marshawn Lynch will suit up with the Packers this season.

First, the price tag of acquiring the retired running back is significantly greater than the other free agent running backs because it would require both draft picks and a multi-million dollar contract.

Second, Lynch is a wild card. His “I’m just here so I won’t get fined” comments in the lead up to Super Bowl XLIX and retirement announcement on Twitter during Super Bowl 50 are just the tip of the iceberg. If Lynch un-retires and joins the Packers, are you confident he will be there the whole season? Are you $6 million confident?

Third, it’s clear Lynch wants to play for his hometown team. NFL insider Ian Rapoport tweeted Lynch’s mindset is “Oakland or bust.”