It’s raining skittles in Oakland! Well, it is in Las Vegas too, I guess. The Oakland Raiders have signed Marshawn Lynch to a 2-year deal that will bring him out of retirement, and back to his hometown of Oakland. This news is exciting to many, surprising to some, and overall worth reviewing as we readjust to an NFL with our favorite power-back personality.
Marshawn Lynch’s official retirement from the NFL on February 7th, 2016, came as a great surprise to many, while others discredited it as just another installment of “Marshawn being Marshawn.” He has been known to do rather outlandish things with the media, from repeating phrases such as “I’m just here, so I don’t get fined,” to wearing his new Raiders helmet out of the training facility Wednesday afternoon, but say what you will about Marshawn, he really did leave the football world and enjoy retirement this past year.
This brings to question whether or not Beast Mode will be able to re-acclimate to life on the field. While he kept himself in great physical condition over the past year, it is hard to say whether or not he kept himself in “football shape.” It isn’t until he hits the practice field that we will be able to see if he still has what it takes to carry defenders with him like he used to and withstand the physical toll on his 31-year-old body.
The top 10 leaders last season in total rushing yards averaged 25 years of age. To put this into perspective, of those top 10 rushers from last year, only 2 of them were exactly 25 years old themselves—David Johnson and Le’Veon Bell. While it is undeniable that younger backs are more valuable to teams in the long run, sometimes veteran power backs are just as valuable to well-tuned offenses. From last year’s top 10, there was one man that was 30 years old: LeGarrette Blount. Like Lynch, Blount is an older back that runs with power rather than blazing speed. While he may not sprint past Safeties for 70-yard touchdowns, he powers through tough defensive lines, churning those powerful legs for yard after yard. LeGarrette Blount rushed his way to a league leading 18 touchdowns and 1,161 yards and was amongst the top rushers in terms of yards after contact.
The Raiders have a terrific receiving corps made up of receivers including Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree, Cordarrelle Patterson, and Jared Cook, yet they lacked experience and reliability at the running back position following the departure of Latavius Murray (and even possibly with Murray). The addition of Lynch not only strengthens the passing game for the Raiders but also furthers the effectiveness of Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington as secondary, explosive options in the run-game.
All things considered, Marshawn Lynch is worth the risk. Though I am not sure that he will emulate his 2012 1,590 yard, 11 TD rushing season, I think that he has the potential to surpass his career high TD mark of 13 and provide a powerful threat to an already powerful Oakland Raiders team. Though many are concerned with his low production value in his 7 games in 2015 (417 yards and 3 TD’s rushing) and battles with injury, I believe that if he and Carr can stay healthy, we might finally see Tom Brady sweat, and at the end of the day, what more can we really ask for?