The latest Seahawks issue might end up being their most galling.
Because it was completely self-inflicted and avoidable.
The NFL seems beyond tired of investigating the Seahawks, for the fourth time in six years. This time it’s for not reporting Richard Sherman’s knee injury during this past season.
ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported on Thursday the league is considering taking away Seattle’s second-round choice in April’s draft for not putting Sherman on any practice or game injury report for a sprained knee that coach Pete Carroll disclosed Monday. The Pro Bowl cornerback didn’t miss a game.
Mortensen wrote the NFL is considering turning Seattle’s penalty for too much contact in minicamps — losing a fifth-round pick this year, plus a $400,000 fine for a third violation in five years of minicamp contact rules — into taking Seattle’s second-round selection for not reporting Sherman’s injury.
Here’s how the process of practice reporting works: Carroll meets with a trainer at the end of practices during game weeks Wednesday, Thursday and especially Friday, when the injury report for a Sunday game is due to the league. A member of the Seahawks’ media-relations staff then disseminates a practice and injury report to the league and media based on the result of Carroll’s post-practice talk with the trainer.
There are precedents of the league fining teams for not revealing injuries on reports, especially to star players. The NFL fined the New York Jets $125,000 in 2009 for not reporting an arm injury quarterback Brett Favre had the previous season.
But those Jets hadn’t been investigated four times in six years by the NFL for violations of league rules.
That’s why this punishment might not exactly fit the Seahawks’ relatively benign crime.
Carroll this week revealed Sherman had a sprained medial collateral ligament in his knee late in the season. It was the coach’s way of explaining how tough of a season it was, and that the three-time All-Pro cornerback bulled through it.
“I had a big meeting with Richard going out,” Carroll told 710-AM in Seattle on Monday. “He has some regrets that this season didn’t go the way we wanted it to go. You don’t know that he dealt with a significant knee the whole second half of the season and it was stressful to him to try to get out there. He had an MCL problem that he could play with, like Russell (Wilson) did.
“But that weighs on you, particularly when you’re out there on the edge and you know you’re not quite 100 percent. And it fed into some of the stuff that he had to deal with. I don’t mean to be revealing everything, but I admire how hard he worked at this thing and how he tried to handle it and also when he made his mistakes, he was burdened by that and had to work his way through it. He’s a good man, and he’s trying to get everything right.”
Carroll covering for Sherman might cost Seattle. Dearly.
Draft choices are huge commodities to every team, especially to Seahawks general manager John Schneider and his personnel staff. They have stockpiled picks to build their young, championship core over the last six years. They also used them to trade for players such as tight end Jimmy Graham.
Second-round picks are usually considered ready or nearly ready to start in the NFL. The Seahawks’ recent second-rounders include defensive end Frank Clark, who had 10 sacks in 2016, emerging wide receiver Paul Richardson and middle linebacker Bobby Wagner. Wagner is now an All-Pro and perennial Pro Bowl selection.
“Honestly, I didn’t realize we hadn’t revealed it,” Carroll said Monday in his season-ending press conference, two days after Seattle’s playoff loss at Atlanta. “I don’t even remember what game it was, it was somewhere in the middle. ... I don’t know.
“He was fine about it. He didn’t miss anything.”
Sherman not missing a game because of the injury is likely going to be the Seahawks’ defense with the league while asking for leniency in a punishment.
Mortensen reported the team is cooperating with the NFL’s review of the situation. He added “lots is on the table, including more fines.”
The league’s policy on injuries in practice reports is clear. The NFL reminded each team of it before the 2016 season.
The policy states, in part:
“The Practice Report provides clubs and fans with an accurate description of a player’s injury status and how much he participated in practice during the week. If any player has a significant or noteworthy injury, it must be listed on the practice report, even if he fully participates in practice and the team expects that he will play in the team’s next game. This is especially important for key players whose injuries may be covered extensively by the media.”
Asked on Monday at his press conference why Sherman’s injury never showed up on a practice report, Carroll said: “I don’t know. I’m feeling like I screwed that up with not telling you that because that happened, but he was OK.
“So I don’t know. He never missed anything, which is probably why.”
Sherman first appeared on a practice report this past season for missing drills on Wednesday, Oct. 26, four days before he played in the loss at New Orleans. The reason the team listed for Sherman missing practice that day was “NIR” — not injury related.
That week started a pattern for Sherman missing one day of practice per week: on Saturday, Nov. 5, two days before he played in the win over Buffalo; on Friday, Nov. 11, two days before he played in the win at New England; and on Friday, Nov. 18, for missing another light practice two days before the home win over Philadelphia. The team listed Sherman’s reason for missing those practices as the same: “NIR.”
The only time all season Sherman was listed on a practice report for an actual injury was Wednesday, Nov. 23, four days before the loss at Tampa Bay — which he again started. The team listed him with an ankle injury that day.
In six of the final seven game weeks of the regular season that followed, Sherman missed one practice day with the designation “NIR.” The only exception was the short week of three prep days before the Dec. 16 home win over the Los Angeles Rams.
The Seahawks signed five players to futures contracts for offseason workouts and minicamps: TE Christian Briggs, DT Rodney Coe, WR Jamel Johnson, DB Demetrius McCray and WR Rodney Smith.
Gregg Bell: @gbellseattle