Marshawn Lynch to retire after season?

According to a report from the NFL Network, the Seahawks star running back may retire at the conclusion of this season due to back issues. The 28-year old Lynch currently ranks fourth in franchise history in rushing yards and though he's struggled through various injuries this season, he looks well on his way towards earning a fifth Pro Bowl nod.

Over the past year there has been plenty of speculation that the Seahawks would release Marshawn Lynch before his contract was up after the 2015 season. According to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, Lynch may instead retire at the end of this season as cartilage in his back is compressed, leaving the 28-year old back in frequent pain.

Though he's emerged as one of the league's best and most durable backs since coming to Seattle from Buffalo, Lynch has struggled with back issues. Lynch has quietly discussed the possibility of retiring before, perhaps some of the reason why the Seahawks invested second and fourth round selections in Christine Michael and Robert Turbin in the 2013 and 2012 drafts, respectively.

Michael and Turbin would, of course, be first in line to replace Lynch as the Seahawks primary runners. The 2015 NFL Draft is expected to be loaded with talent at the position, as well.

Lynch's ferocious, determined running style inspires his teammates and has played a critical - perhaps even team MVP - role in the Seahawks' success in recent years, including last season's championship run. Lynch currently ranks fourth in franchise history in rushing yards with 5,580. That puts him well within striking distance of Curt Warner (6,705) and Chris Warren (6,706) for second place behind Shaun Alexander (9,429) if he were to return next season.

Lynch's punishing running, however, has left him battered. He has fought through various injuries this season, including pain in his ankle, knee, ribs and back and famously remained on the sideline in frigid Kansas City during halftime to receive treatment on his back.

Rapoport's comments Sunday morning generated a flurry of subsequent reports (including this one). There is no indication, however, that Lynch will be anywhere but in the backfield taking handoffs from Russell Wilson a week from now when the Seahawks return to the field in Philadelphia to face the NFC East's first-place Eagles.

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