Few people are as mysterious and unpredictable as Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch. Not even longtime NFL head coach and NFL broadcaster Jon Gruden has been able to track down Lynch over the years.
“I’ve never met Marshawn Lynch,” Gruden said Tuesday at his introductory news conference in Alameda. “Even as a broadcaster, I asked for Marshawn Lynch in production meetings. I never got to meet him. I’m anxious to sit down with Marshawn, and we’ll talk about his future with the Raiders.”
Lynch signed a two-year contract with the Raiders last year that calls for him to make $4 million in base salary in 2018, as well as a $1.7 million roster bonus and $250,000 workout bonus, according to Spotrac.com.
The Raiders signed Lynch, 31, to be their lead back after they opted not to re-sign free agent Latavius Murray. Lynch was the featured back in a three-headed attack that included Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington.
Lynch posted a team-high 891 yards rushing (4.3-yard average) and scored seven touchdowns. He also caught 20 passes for 151 yards in 15 games – he was suspended for one game for making contact with an official.
The Raiders have enough salary-cap space to sign another running back. However, it wouldn’t be out of line for Gruden to stick with a veteran such as Lynch. Gruden favored veterans during his first two coaching stints, with Charlie Garner, Tyrone Wheatley and Michael Pittman.
Gruden needs a big, powerful back like Lynch to star in his power-rushing attack. And, the Raiders already have the offensive line in place. The kicker might be the fact that Gruden and Lynch share something in common.
Lynch retired after the 2015 season and seemed content to travel the world and grown his Beast Mode brand until the Raiders knocked on his door and talked him into playing for his hometown team.
“I can’t wait,” Gruden said of his first meeting with Lynch. “He came for similar reasons that I did. He loves Oakland. He loves the Raiders. Guys like that interest me, so I’m looking forward to talking to him.”
It’s unclear when that meeting will take place. However, it’s certain to do so before free agency starts in March. Gruden already is fast at work poring over the Raiders roster and figuring out his team’s needs. Running back is high on his list.
As usual, the ball is in Lynch’s court, and he likely is going to use all of the clock and do things on his time frame.