Dallas Cowboys: Marshawn Lynch a Cowboy in 2016?

Sep 13, 2015; St. Louis, MO, USA; Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch (24) runs the ball against the St. Louis Rams during the first half at the Edward Jones Dome. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 13, 2015; St. Louis, MO, USA; Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch (24) runs the ball against the St. Louis Rams during the first half at the Edward Jones Dome. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports /

The Dallas Cowboys are in the market for a RB and Marshawn Lynch may soon be available.

Marshawn Lynch (aka Beast Mode) is done in Seattle. Regardless of how well he plays in the postseason, it’s highly unlikely the Seattle Seahawks pony up the cash to keep the 29-year-old “Beast Mode” around another season. Especially since they already hold his successor, Thomas Rawls, who’s both younger (22) and cheaper ($525,000).

Lynch, and his bruising “never die” running style, has been a mainstay in the Seattle rushing attack for the past six seasons. But after ever-increasing drama and discontent with the Seattle front office, Beast Mode will soon be completing change of address forms.

Marshawn Lynch’s Fit With the Dallas Cowboys

The Dallas Cowboys and Marshawn Lynch could be a match made in heaven. Dallas, like Seattle, runs primarily behind a zone blocking scheme (ZBS). As you all know, not just any runner can succeed behind a ZBS. Running behind a ZBS requires patience, vision, and experience. It’s an unnatural style because the holes that the offensive line create are not exactly preplanned or drawn up in the huddle.

"Quick Classroom Break: The ZBS relies on reading the defense. Offensive linemen base their assignments on which side the ball will be going, if they are personally  “covered” and/or if their linemate next to them is “covered”."

Instead of the straight-ahead downhill blocking, offensive linemen work more laterally. Ball-carriers must be ready to follow their blocks and make their cut when the situation presents itself. Marshawn Lynch represents the best in the business at this task and to transition to the Dallas Cowboys would be absolutely seamless.

Marshawn Lynch’s Age

Marshawn Lynch is at a very dangerous age for an NFL running back. Turning 30 in April, Beast Mode is of prime age to transition to “Least Mode” (I’m so sorry, I couldn’t resist). Not only is Lynch at the age when RBs typically “hit the wall”, but his running style makes his high mileage particularly abusive.

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The only good news is that over the past two seasons, Marshawn only had 391 total carries. While that’s not great, it isn’t terrible either. 195 carries per season translates to a little over 12 carries per game. 12 per game would make him a part-time RB in the Dallas Cowboys offense. So if you want to look at it positively, Marshawn has been a part-time player the past two seasons and if he joined the Cowboys in 2016, part-time would be the most realistic role.

Marshawn Lynch’s Production

Marshawn’s production over the years has been pretty impressive. Between 2011 and 2014, Marshawn racked up 1,204 yards, 1,590 yards, 1,257 yards, and 1,306 yards rushing. In 2015, injuries limited Lynch to just 417 regular season rushing yards (in portions of seven games).

Over that same stretch (2011 – 2014), Marshawn  became one of the NFL’s best short-yardage and goal line RBs. He tallied 12, 11, 12, and 13 rushing TDs respectively and it was his short-yardage dominance that sparked such outrage over Pete Carroll’s decision to throw the ball on the goal line in last season’s Super Bowl.

His injures this year could be a signal that he already hit his figurative “wall”, but in those games he played, he was still the same old Beast Mode. Despite only playing seven games, Pro Football Focus rated him as the #2 RB in the NFL in 2015, and specifically rated him #1 as a ball-carrier (ratings based on execution of each play and not just on total statistics over the season).

After watching Lynch play, it’s clear speed isn’t one of the primary weapons in his arsenal. Age is destined to take his speed at some point but so much of Marshawn’s game relies on strength, vision, and patience, that turning 30 may not be the death sentence it is for many other backs.

Marshawn Lynch’s Cost

The cost to sign Marshawn Lynch is, of course, the key to this entire thing. If the price is right, any team in the NFL would jump at the chance of adding Beast Mode to their stable of runners.

One thing is sure, Lynch will not receive anything remotely close to what he was making in Seattle. As you can see below, according to overthecap.com, Lynch is due $11.5M in 2016. Seattle knows no one is going to pay that sum so a trade is out of the question. Lynch will be cut, Seattle will see the $6.5M in cap savings, and Lynch will be free to sign elsewhere.

Beast Mode in Big D?

The Dallas Cowboys should be particularly attractive to Lynch when he explores the market. For a guy who acts like he doesn’t like the attention, the dude likes the attention, and no place gives you more attention than Big D.

Not only that, but there is familiarity in blocking scheme and a clear upgrade in offensive linemen in Dallas. Beast Mode in Big D? If the price is right this addition could do big things for the Dallas Cowboys in 2016.

Next: Cowboys Draft: A Late-Round Sleeper RB

Note: Even if Marshawn Lynch signs with Dallas, the Cowboys still need to invest a draft pick on a young RB this spring. Not only that, but re-signing Lance Dunbar should be priority #1 (Before Hardy, McClain, anyone). Darren McFadden, Lance Dunbar, a Draft Pick, and Marshawn Lynch look like a pretty good stable of backs to head into training camp with.