Seattle Seahawks

Marshawn Lynch retires in a way only he would

Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch talks to teammates on the sideline during a Nov. 15 game against the Arizona Cardinals.
Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch talks to teammates on the sideline during a Nov. 15 game against the Arizona Cardinals. The Associated Press

Marshawn Lynch apparently retired during the Super Bowl by tweeting a picture of a pair of hung-up spikes.

Of course he did.

Though the team had not received official confirmation from Lynch as of late Sunday, the Seahawks believe his tweet means their 29-year-old star running back was indeed announcing his retirement in his own, characteristically unique way.

Team owner Paul Allen gave the Seahawks’ most official confirmation of Sunday night when he tweeted at 10:11 p.m. Seattle time: “@Seahawks Thank you @MoneyLynch for a great career as a Seahawk. So many memorable runs and quakes! #BeastMode !”

Coach Pete Carroll, general manager John Schneider and the Seahawks “all saw his tweet and understand his feelings,” a league source with knowledge of the situation told The News Tribune late Sunday.

The source did not want to be identified because the team had yet to confirm Lynch’s retirement.

More to the point, the Seahawks were not officially informed of his plans — as they rarely have been during a most unique 5  1/2 years.

During Sunday’s game, Lynch tweeted a pair of green spikes hanging from a wire in front of a dark background. The angle of the picture and the night-like background depicted Lynch was hanging ’em up against the Super Bowl night sky.

That’s exactly the message Lynch’s teammates and team took from his tweet.

@Seahawks Thank you @MoneyLynch for a great career as a Seahawk. So many memorable runs and quakes! #BeastMode !” Seahawks owner Paul Allen tweeted Sunday night, the most official response from the team that they indeed believe Lynch is done playing.

Since Seattle traded for him during the 2010 season and made him the bedrock for Carroll’s system based on power running and defense, Lynch became the foundation for the most successful string of seasons in franchise history. That included the Seahawks’ only Super Bowl championship.

At the end of the 2014 season Lynch and Seattle steamrolled Denver 43-8 — two Super Bowls before the Broncos dominated Carolina on Sunday night to win Super Bowl 50.

“Salute to my guy @MoneyLynch ... It was an honor sharing the field with you,” Seahawks Pro Bowl cornerback Richard Sherman tweeted during the game.

After the game, Pro Bowl quarterback Russell Wilson also saluted Lynch on Twitter.

“Honor playing with one of the best running backs of all time! Going to miss sharing the backfield with you 24... #BeastMode @MoneyLynch” Wilson posted.

Officially, the team hasn’t been notified of Lynch’s plans either way. Then again, it never has been.

Suffice to say that as of late Sunday, the Seahawks were taking Lynch’s tweet to mean he is indeed retiring — though for a player to officially retire he needs to submit paperwork ending his career to the league office.

Yet the context all but confirms Lynch is quitting the game. So apparently ends a decade in the league. Lynch was named to five Pro Bowl teams: in 2008 while with Buffalo, then the last four with the Seahawks. He was an All-Pro in 2012 when he had a career-high 1,590 yards with 11 rushing touchdowns. From 2011 into the 2015 season, his first injury-filled year of his career, Lynch was the NFL’s leader in rushing yards and touchdowns.

On Jan. 22, Seahawks general manager John Schneider said of Lynch on Seattle radio station 710-AM, the team’s flagship station: “I’m under the impression he’s leaning towards retirement.”

The team had been hoping to know before the league’s annual scouting combine that begins Feb. 23 in Indianapolis whether Lynch will retire. The combine is a week of meetings with agents of prospective prospects and free agents, and the Seahawks will be in the market for a new runner behind heir Thomas Rawls without Lynch returning next season.

Lynch floated the possibility of retirement during each of the previous two offseasons. That resulted in him getting $1.5 million in future money up front in 2014 to end his weeklong holdout from training camp, and getting an additional $5 million for 2015 in a two-year contract extension last March. That deal ran through the 2017 season, but the next two years involved no guaranteed money.

No one around the team believed Lynch will fulfill those two seasons. He signed that extension to get the $5 million more for this past season, upping his total pay, including his signing bonus, to $12 million for 2015.

He had surgery on Nov. 25 for an abdominal issue. While he was hurt, Rawls romped. Rawls became the first undrafted rookie in league history to rush for at least 160 yards in two games in his rookie season, establishing himself as replacement for Lynch the Seahawks previously lacked.

Rawls broke his ankle and tore ligaments on Dec. 13 in a win at Baltimore, but said last month the day after the season-ending playoff loss at Carolina that he will be ready for the start of next season.

Lynch returned from two months out to play in that game. He gained just 20 yards on six carries as the Panthers raced to a 31-0 lead to take him out of Seattle’s game plan. Those six carries and 20 yards will apparently be his final ones with the Seahawks and in the game.

Lynch was scheduled for a base salary of $9 million, not guaranteed, for next season, with a cap charge of $11.5 million for 2016. He and the Seahawks assuredly would not have realized those numbers.

Whether he officially retired or the team released him, Lynch’s cap charge was going to be $5 million for 2016. That’s a savings of $6.5 million that the team can use on other players.

If Lynch does more than tweet a pair of spikes hanging from a wire and actually submits retirement paperwork with the league, he would be subject to paying back the remaining proration on his $7.5 million signing bonus from that extension last March, a sum of $5 million. But the Seahawks wouldn’t have to collect that — and likely wouldn’t. They have made special financial agreements with him before, such as when they waived the fines that the league’s collective bargaining agreement entitled the team to collect after Lynch held out during the first week of 2014’s training camp.

Marshawn Lynch

Drafted in 2007 by Buffalo with the 12th pick overall

Traded to Seattle in 2010 for two draft picks

Finishes with 9,112 yards rushing and 74 touchdowns

Had 6,347 yards and 57 touchdowns with Seattle

Rushed for 937 yards on 193 carries in 11 postseason games

Finishes 36th in career rushing yards and 24th in touchdowns