Marshawn Lynch isn't quite as big as LeGarrette Blount, but he runs as hard as any "big back" the Patriots have ever had.
That's why a short-term deal between the former Seahawks running back and the reigning Super Bowl champions is, on its face, an intriguing one.
According to the Boston Herald's Jeff Howe, Lynch has privately expressed his willingness to play for the Patriots if talks break down with the Raiders, who still for now play in his home town of Oakland. Lynch retired before the start of last season, but he has reportedly told the Raiders that he plans to un-retire.
The Seahawks still have Lynch's rights and would have to release him or trade him if he hopes to play elsewhere in 2017. That didn't sound like much of an obstacle when Seahawks general manasger John Schneider told KIRO-AM radio in Seattle last week that the process of allowing Lynch to play for the Raiders would be a "smooth" one. Schneider added, however, that Lynch would only want to return to play for Oakland.
Why then would it come out that Lynch would like to play elsewhere?
Veteran players have long held interest in linking up with Tom Brady and Bill Belichick because they know they'll be in the running for a Lombardi Trophy. Though this situation is a little bit different in that the veteran player in question has retired, it's not unprecedented. Junior Seau announced his retirement in 2006 but was quickly convinced to sign with the Patriots to continue his career.
It's also not out of the realm of possibility that Lynch would like to leverage the Raiders a tad, letting them know that if they don't make a move to lock him up, he could land with the best team in their conference.
If the interest between the Patriots and Lynch was mutual, that might also provide some pressure on Blount's end to agree to a deal with the Patriots. Though Blount wants to be in New England, and though the Patriots have made him an offer, it's not a deal that has enticed him to sign. With the threat of a short-term marriage between Lynch and the Patriots out there, might that nudge Blount in the direction of an agreement?
In New England, Lynch would figure to factor in as the team's 5-foot-11, 215-pound hammer, splitting time in the backfield with all-purpose types Dion Lewis and Rex Burkhead as well as sub back James White.
Lynch, 30, is about seven months older and 35 pounds lighter than Blount, and he has 976 more career rushing attempts under his belt. In 2015, Lynch was limited to 111 carries in seven games due to injury.
Although Lynch has nine professional seasons behind him, he may only be two seasons removed from his best year. In 2014, in regular season and postseason games, he averaged 4.7 yards per carry and 3.1 yards per carry after contact. He fumbled just twice on 343 attempts and no one had more rushing touchdowns than his 15. He also had far and away the most missed tackles forced among running back with 117, according to Pro Football Focus. The next closest? DeMarco Murray with 71.
Lynch, of course, has a bit of history with New England. In Super Bowl XLIX he ran 24 times for 102 yards and a touchdown. That he didn't get a 25th carry in that game, you'll remember, was the source of some discussion after the fact.
Though the match sounds like a good one, there appear to be several dominos that would have to fall first before it could happen.
First, Lynch and the Raiders would have to come to an impasse. Then the Seahawks would have to be willing to let Lynch go to the Patriots. Belichick and Pete Carroll have a good relationship, but if the Seahawks view themselves as Super Bowl contenders, would they be willing to help one of their primary competitors?
It's an entertaining idea to kick around, at the very least.