"The Walking Dead" fans have been on the edge of their seats ever since news about Andrew Lincoln's possible departure from the show in Season 9 broke. And while the jury is still out about whether or not this information is actually true, one thing is for certain: There hasn't been an offseason for "The Walking Dead" quite as exciting as this one, given how many conflicting reports come out about the show almost on a daily basis. A lot of characters are rumored to die in Season 9. [VIDEO]

But even if the rumors about people leaving the show are true, one has to wonder, does that necessarily mean that Rick Grimes will be killed off? Well, if a new theory is to be believed, there is a way to save Rick and still give Andrew Lincoln as much time off as he wants.

But before delving into all that, let's put the theory in some context and talk about the first official Season 9 poster.

'The Walking Dead' Season 9 poster teases new location

A few of days ago, "The Walking Dead" official account from Skybound Entertainment tweeted what is definitely the most intriguing poster the show has ever done.

The poster is as intriguing as it is beautiful. And while Carol, Michonne, and Daryl are still sporting their Season 8 looks, Rick, on the other hand, looks way older because losing a child does that to a man. As for Maggie, she is no longer pregnant, which confirms an approximately one-year time jump. But the most ambiguous elements of this poster have to be what looks like the destroyed Capitol building, which points to the fact that our group will be heading to Washington DC.

The ever-mysterious helicopter [VIDEO] lurking in the background presents another wrinkle. And that brings us to a new theory.

How can Rick survive?

According to Paul Tassi from Forbes, Rick will be ambushed by the members of a new group during the first half of Season 9 (possibly Episode 5 or 6) and he will be taken by the very same helicopter he saw in Season 8. The rest of Rick's group will then report what happened to the others. The imprisoned Negan will hear about this, and he will urge them to talk to Jadis (or should we call her Anne) about the helicopter. And she will tell them that this new group is based in Washington DC.

Part of the group will stay behind to guard the fences of their reformed communities, while Michonne, Daryl, Jadis, and surprisingly Negan will head to DC to find Rick. Not only does this theory allow Andrew Lincoln to take a much-needed break from the show, but it will also get "The Walking Dead" on the road, giving the series that Season 4, and 5 vibes they've been teasing so much.