But is it one of those dream scenarios that’s destined to disappoint in reality?
This isn’t the Raiders somehow stealing away an in-his-prime Lynch from the Seattle Seahawks. This is a Lynch who’s nearly 31 years old and spent the 2016 season retired, traveling the world and looking every bit a man who’s done with football.
When he retired, Lynch didn’t exactly leave the door open for a return – in fact, he slammed it firmly shut.
“No, I’m done. I’m done,” Lynch said. “I enjoyed my time playing, now it’s time to watch my cousins do they thing.”
He added, “I’m retired. Is that good enough? Which camera do you want me to look into? This one? I’m done. I’m not playing football anymore.”
Players are free to change their minds, and maybe a year away rekindled his love for the game, but Lynch sure sounded like someone uninterested in playing one more down in the NFL.
On the Raiders’ side, the logic of acquiring Lynch – beyond the initial fun of signing one of the league’s most-loved personalities who has a playing style made for Raiders football – doesn’t really make sense, either.
Oakland has a Super Bowl-ready roster, powered by the arm of Derek Carr and a strong passing attack. They’ve reached this point by making shrewd free-agent signings and focusing on building through the draft.
So, trading for a 30-year-old running back who looked a shell of his former self due to injuries in his last season would go against the philosophy that has brought the Raiders back to relevancy. Oakland would not only have to give up draft picks, they’d have to take on Lynch’s significant salary for the next two seasons, too.
The Raiders have nearly $40 million in cap space, but that number is a mirage. Carr and star pass rusher Khalil Mack will need extensions this summer, and both will command deals near the highest paid at their positions. Oakland, as a result of its success, can no longer take these kinds of risks with the salary cap, especially for a non-premium position like running back.
A triumphant last stint with his hometown team is the storybook ending Lynch’s career deserves. His unique talents and personality are sorely missed in the NFL, but his time has passed.
Both he and the Raiders would be best served by leaving a potential partnership to the imagination, as the reality rarely lives up to the hype with narrative-driven moves like these in the NFL.
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