Pete Carroll: Marshawn Lynch 'somewhat entertaining' a return to NFL

Pete Carroll: Marshawn Lynch 'somewhat entertaining' a return to NFL

PHOENIX – Pete Carroll met with Marshawn Lynch roughly 10 days ago. The Seattle Seahawks head coach said his former running back did not say he was coming out of retirement.

Lynch, is however, considering the prospect.

“He’s somewhat entertaining the thought of it,” Carroll said Wednesday at the NFL owners meetings. “I can’t tell you how strongly. You’d have to talk to him about that, and that chance ain’t happening.”

Lynch rarely talks to the press, though he has been visible during his year away from the NFL. He guest-starred on television shows, travelled the world, promoted the heck out of Skittles and did significant charity work in his native Oakland.

Lynch retired after the 2015 season and has repeatedly said he’s happy in retirement. Carroll suggests a comeback has entered Lynch’s head, but that doesn’t mean he’s coming back for sure.

The 30-year old is an enigmatic, unpredictable fellow. If he does return, Lynch reportedly only wants to do so with the Raiders.

The Silver and Black need a powerful running back to join a rotation with Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington, and Lynch is versatile enough to produce in the Raiders’ diverse offensive system.

General manager Reggie McKenzie and head coach Jack Del Rio couldn’t comment on Lynch even in retirement, because his rights still belong to the Seahawks. He has two years remaining on a contract he signed before the 2015 season.

Seattle would have a decision to make if Lynch is reinstated. The bruising back would count $9 million against the Seahawks’ salary cap, a number that doesn’t fit into their budget.

They could release him or seek a trade, though Carroll didn’t state the Seahawks plans should Lynch decide to come back.

“I don’t know,” Carroll said. “We’ll talk about that if the time comes.”

The Raiders won’t give up draft picks to get him. Sources says the Silver and Black would strongly consider bringing him to Alameda if he were a free agent, though Lynch would have to work within the Raiders budget as well.

Carroll said Lynch would have to be motivated in a return to play his intense brand of football.

“It depends on how he has approached this offseason,” Carroll said. “The mentality of what it takes to play this game the way that he plays it, he really has to be invested and ready. He goes deep when he plays. Whether or not the burn is still inside him, I couldn’t tell that. I know he was kind of playing with the idea.”

McKenzie, Del Rio ‘unified since Day 1,’ ushering Raiders into next phase

McKenzie, Del Rio ‘unified since Day 1,’ ushering Raiders into next phase

Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie and head coach Jack Del Rio have done three pre-draft press conferences now. They’ve got the routine down, knowing when to deflect questions, when to put people off the scent and, more importantly, how to seem unpredictable.

They were in lockstep again Friday, less than a week before the 2017 NFL Draft.

During their first, McKenzie offered one criticism of his head coach.

“Can you guys get Jack out of my office?” McKenzie said in 2015, with tongue firmly in cheek.

The rhetorical question was answered with a laugh. McKenzie was acknowledging how much Del Rio and staff wanted to support the scouting process. McKenzie ultimately pulls the trigger on draft day, but Del Rio has a loud voice in the room as he looks for players who fit his locker room and his schemes.

McKenzie has open ears, taking advice from the entire coaching staff while arranging his draft board. This time of year especially, coaches and scouts are working together.

“It’s been unified since Day 1,” Del Rio said. “Reggie and I are very unified and much on the same mission and that is to bring a world championship home to this organization. Everything we’re doing is attacking that, adding these impact players where we can.”

The pair was focused on improving a lackluster roster that featured Derek Carr and Khalil Mack but finished 3-13 the year before. Now their partnership is entering Phase II.

They must decide which players to add, and decide which previously drafted players to keep. There are some obvious extensions in the works, with Carr, Mack and Gabe Jackson. They had to let some homegrown talent go in free agency as they attempt to upgrade depth and build a championship roster that can build on last year’s success.

“There’s a whole different phase that we’re about to go through as an organization as you begin to mature, some of those players have to be re-signed or not. Those are decisions you have to make in all of this. This is year three for us working together and I feel like the relationship with the scouts and the coaches and the sharing of information is excellent. We want to continue to work that way.”

Locals among cornerbacks who can help Raiders early in NFL Draft

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AP

Locals among cornerbacks who can help Raiders early in NFL Draft

The Raiders have an opening in their secondary.

Finding a slot cornerback is a top priority with DJ Hayden now in Detroit. TJ Carrie is an option there, but the Raiders could add a young, versatile talent capable of taking a more prominent role down the line.

That’s true despite the fact Sean Smith signed a free-agent deal through 2019 last year and David Amerson received a contract extension through the 2020 season. Those contracts, however, become pay-as-you-go deals after this season.

The dead money goes away, freeing the Raiders to look for long-term upgrades if they see fit.

Head coach Jack Del Rio loves creating competition and depth, especially at such an important position in today’s NFL. The Raiders like larger, physical cornerbacks with ball skills, and there are plenty in this year’s draft.

Many analysts have the Raiders taking a cornerback at No. 24 overall, and that’s a realistic possibility. They could certainly look to help last year’s No. 24-ranked secondary in the early rounds.

Let’s take a look at some top options available in this week’s draft:

Good fits:There are quite a few quality cornerbacks who could be available at No. 24 overall, even if there’s an early run on the position.

Oakland native and Washington alum Kevin King visited the Raiders during the pre-draft process, and certainly fits what the Raiders like in a cornerback. He’s confident and aggressive, unafraid to use great physical traits to make plays on the ball. He’s tall and long and isn’t afraid to tackle.

USC’s Adoree Jackson has the quality ball skills the Raiders like, and is adept high-pointing the ball. Analysts say he can play several coverage techniques and has the agility to make up for mistakes. He can work in the slot, but at 5-foot-10 isn’t as tall as the Raiders like. They’d have to take him in the first round. He may not last beyond that.

San Jose native and Colorado product Chidobe Awuzie is another interesting local defensive back ready to turn pro. He can play outside or in the slot, and analysts say he has excellent one-on-one coverage skills but needs tackling work. He was a solid slot blitzer at Colorado, and could fill an immediate need crucial against so many three and four receiver sets.

Louisiana State’s Tre’Davious White has experience playing the slot, and could help right away there before transferring outside if asked. He can cover extremely well, though analysts say he isn’t much of a tackler. He might be a tweener as far as the Raiders are concerned, not worthy of the No. 24 pick but long gone before the Raiders pick in the second round.

Central Florida’s Shaquill Griffin visited the Raiders this spring, and rightfully so. A willing run defender with good ball skills and tackling ability who could be available in the third round should intrigue them.