Any Seahawks fan will remember the rumblings last off season surrounding the team, Richard Sherman and his apparent trade block status. As we all know, nothing materialized and Richard remained on the team for the 2017 season.
Was the team’s asking price too much? Very possibly. Was there no genuine interest from other teams? Doubtful. I suspect the team were asking for a similar deal that sent Darrelle Revis to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from the New York Jets in 2013 for the 13th overall pick in that year’s draft, plus a conditional 4th the following year. The team very likely received trade offers in the late first/early second round which would have surely tempted them, but ultimately, decided to keep Sherm in Seattle for the 2017 season and beyond.
With what we know now, getting a late first or early second would have been tremendous value given he was injured in early November and out for the season with a torn Achilles.
It’s a moot point, though. Fact is Seattle kept him in 2017 and he suffered a season ending injury. But what should the team do with him in 2018?
Sherman is a perfect athlete in terms of his body for Pete Carroll, arguably the best DB developer the league has seen. He’s 6’3”, 32” arm length and 9 ¾” hands. Looking at his playing style, he’s never relied on his outright speed (he ran a 4.56 40-yard dash), what he has relied on is his ability in press coverage, his ability to read plays, his length to reach the ball and his natural ability to bait QB’s into thinking he’s out of position. Those traits don’t leave after a torn Achilles, fortunately. So there’s little to suggest that he won’t bounce back to, at the very least, 80% of his previous ability covering the left side.
The big question for me is what Seattle wants to do in free agency whether it be resigning existing players of bringing in outside players. Cutting Sherm releases $11M from the cap for 2018, that’s borderline superstar money. In reality, Seattle won’t be able to make any big splashes in free agency outside of depth players and a few vet minimum type contracts and if they’re happy with that route, I’m certain Sherman will be back in 2018. However, if they want to make a splashy signing, cutting Sherman makes the most logical sense to free up the money to do so.
It's worth noting that on Thursday, ESPN reported that Sherm himself expects to be back with the team in 2018 and will be representing himself in any extension talks further down the line. He plans to play for a further 5 to 6 years. Very interesting.
Pete Carroll has proven he can develop cornerbacks and defensive backs in general so if the ball was in my court I’d cut him this off season, invest that $11M into the offense to bring back some balance to the cap split between offense and defense and draft a corner in the middle rounds that fits their height/length requirements and let Pete work his magic. Not to mention bringing back the likes of Byron Maxwell and DeShawn Shead for depth.
For me personally, it’s a no-lose situation. I’d be perfectly happy with keeping him for the final year of his contract, let him play it out then collect maybe a 4th or 5th round comp pick in 2020. We get a highly respected player around the younger guys for another year, a proven player who is guaranteed to start the entire year (barring injuries, of course). What’s not to like? But at the same time, I would be accepting of the front office cutting bait with him and, as mentioned previously, transitioning his salary to the offensive side of the ball, ideally to the interior of the offensive line.
I’m absolutely against giving him a third contract, though. The rest of the division is getting younger and as much as it pains me to say it, we can’t rely on this current core of players forever. You need to be smart with the roster and continually giving aging veterans large third contracts sets you up for disaster from a cap perspective and injury-risk standpoint. This league is designed for 20-somethings, not 30-somethings, for the most part. Unless, of course, he would take a significantly lower 3rd contract in the $4M-ish range. But that’s highly unlikely and very much a pipe dream and borderline insulting to him to suggest it, given all he has done for this team. He effectively put Seattle into their second Super Bowl appearance in the franchise’s history with the ‘tip’ play against the 49ers in the NFCCG. I firmly stand by the notion that I’d rather have fond memories of the endless highlight-reel like performances that he put out game after game than to sign him to a large 3rd contract and watch him slowly decline to a point where he’s benched for someone else. Nobody would want to see that.
Whatever Seattle decides to do, we will know in the coming weeks as free agency opens up in a little over a month. I’m expecting a hell of an off-season, that’s for sure!
Thank you for all you’ve done for this team in your 7 years, Richard. You will always be a Seahawk in my eyes.