© Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
The football world was greeted on Friday morning with yet another report about a potential Marshawn Lynch comeback, making this the third such time journalists have floated vague stories about the running back's return.
Fans, understandably, jump at the idea. Marshawn is one of the most likeable players in NFL history to everyone but fussy beat writers. But guess what? He's almost certainly not coming back.
On Thursday, Raiders radio announcer Greg Papa teased a story on a Bay Area sports radio station about the team being interested in acquiring a retired running back who didn't play in the NFL in 2016. Unfortunately, fellow retired back Arian Foster did get some playing time last season, so Oakland isn't actually interested in bringing him on to stage wolf fights to the death. No, it turns out the Raiders have given an indeterminate amount of consideration to landing hometown hero Marshawn Lynch.
Sure, there's just enough there to talk yourself into it if you feel like being let down later on. The Raiders need a running back, what with Latavius Murray gone to Minnesota in free agency. Beast Mode loves Oakland, and Oakland loves Beast Mode. Adrian Peterson is available but he's also a year older than Lynch and more costly to sign, assuming Lynch even wants to play, which is a rather sizeable if. It's important to remember that there were multiple reports about Lynch unretiring and playing for the Seahawks in 2016. We've been led down this garden path before.
Then there's the matter of what it would take to acquire him. The Seahawks still hold the rights to Marshawn, meaning the Raiders would need to trade for him, or Seattle would have to release him. NFL Network reporter Ian Rapoport has pointed out that Oakland general manager Reggie McKenzie doesn't want to part with any draft picks and is hoarding money to sign team cornerstones Derek Carr and Khalil Mack to long-term deals. And because Marshawn's rights are held by another team, communication between him and the Raiders prior to a trade would be considered tampering, creating another potential complication to sort out if the Raiders do in fact bring him back. With a tampering penalty enforced by the league, you could tack on another lost draft pick.
Rapoport reported that the Raiders tried to trade for Lynch last year, but it didn't happen, because—get this—Lynch didn't want to play. I won't pretend to know what Marshawn actually feels, and I can't fully dismiss the possibility that a full year away from the sport made him miss it. At the same time, you can only be teased every four months about his possible return so many times before outright dismissal becomes the default reaction.
For now, it's best no one holds their breath over this happening. Marshawn already had a great retirement sendoff, via cryptic tweet in the middle of the Super Bowl.
— Shawn Lynch (@MoneyLynch) February 8, 2016
He seems to be enjoying retirement. He's delightful to watch as a player, and a welcome presence willing to push back against the more hidebound circles in and around the league, but it feels selfish as a fan to ask a player to endure more physical punishment, especially at a position as grueling as running back. Then there's another burning question, why would the Raiders want to court Oakland's hometown pride when they're trying to split to Vegas?