Just four months after signing a fat new contract to stay in seattle, Marshawn Lynch has been arrested for drunk driving. According to the California Highway Patrol, Lynch was pulled over after being spotted weaving between lanes and nearly colliding with two different cars. He blew a .08 on a breathalyzer test at the scene (the limit in California is .08), and the Alameda County district attorney’s office has decided to file charges.
How the arrest will affect Lynch’s availability this upcoming season remains to be seen. His arraignment is scheduled for August 14th, three days after the Seahawks’ first preseason game of the year against the Seahawks, and a trial date will likely be scheduled for sometime next offseason, so there’s no reason to worry that Lynch will have to miss games to appear in court. Whether or not Lynch will face a suspension from the NFL is another story. Most players don’t get suspended for a first DUI offense, but most players don’t have the previous arrests that Lynch does: a hit-and-run in 2008, followed by a weapons charges in 2009 that earned him a three game suspension. Whether or not he gets suspended this time depends on how Comissioner Goodell decides to view the situation: will he see Lynch as a problem child who didn’t learn his lesson after his last suspension, or as a guy who screwed up early on in his career and has kept his nose clean for the last few years?
And on top of that, there’s also the possibility that the Seahawks will decide to take action. Quoting an unnamed NFL executive, Ross Tucker of ESPN reports that Lynch’s contract contains language that allows the team to void the deal, including the guaranteed money, for “contract detrimental” to the team or “substance abuse.” But even assuming that information is correct, that doesn’t mean that the team will show Lynch the door. Pete Carroll and John Schneider have already shown a willingness to cut players after run-ins with the law, as OT Jarriel King learned earlier this offseason, but that comparison probably isn’t a fair one — there’s a big difference between cutting a backup lineman and cutting your star backbone-of-the-offense running back (and an even bigger difference between Lynch’s DUI and the sexual assault charges that King faced).
If I had to take a guess, I’d say that Lynch will more likely than not remain a Seahawk even if the league decides to suspend him. After all, Carroll is a guy who likes to dole out second chances, as evidenced by Mike Williams’ comeback in 2010 and Leroy Hill’s even more surprising return in 2011 after a seemingly endless series of injuries and run-ins with the police.