Marshawn Lynch returning to the NFL and to where he started should thrill the player, the city and the team.
Beast Mode’s return to play in the Bay is the perfect end to his career — it doesn’t matter if Lynch rushes for another 1,000 yards or looks more like the worn-down workhorse he was during his last season in Seattle. The 30-year-old veteran can lift up Oakland before it becomes an NFL city no more.
Everything about Lynch screams Silver and Black. He’s the old-school maverick who doesn’t conform to anybody. His actions on and off the field speak much louder than his words, and his status as an elder statesman with the Raiders will be the loudest of statements for a young playoff team.
Lynch of late has been part of Oakland’s fabric as much as the Raiders have; it’s his hometown, through and through. As his football life took him from Cal to Buffalo and then Seattle, Lynch has stayed connected with the Oakland community. His employment with the Raiders is only an extension of his inspiration to the city’s youth.
Lynch could ease the pain of Raiders fans, young and old, who know they can’t count on The Black Hole being down the street much longer. They can dream about Lynch riding in from the sunset for one last ring, for a franchise that hasn’t experienced a Super Bowl run since the 2002 season.
And even if Lynch only helps the franchise win a playoff game or two before it moves to Las Vegas, there’s no better player to go out as the last true Oakland Raider.
Plus, the Raiders actually need a player like Lynch for 2017. He’s an early-down pounder who can finish in the red zone, a replacement for Latavius Murray.
The Raiders have a couple fast youngsters, Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington, so Beast Mode can be more about complementary mode. His presence should help Oakland’s other backs develop quicker as dynamic cogs in the offense.
Demonstrative Raider quarterback Derek Carr doesn’t need much more to fire him up as the team’s unquestioned vocal leader. Carr and the rest of the passing game will only be further driven by the spark Lynch can provide.
Lynch can lead, too, by simply keeping his head down and lowering the boom on defenders.
That — Lynch’s attitude — is part of the reason the Raiders have gone hard after the retired player rather than free agents like Adrian Peterson, before he signed with the Saints, and Jamaal Charles.
Lynch is the preferred choice for other reasons, as well. The Raiders don’t have the room to push Peterson into an every-down role and pay him for it. They have Richard and Washington to provide changes of pace and receiving-down pop, making Charles unnecessary as a part-time back.