Last year, it was Richard Sherman’s tumult – with his coaches on sidelines, with the media in the locker room, with a sprained knee through which he played.
This year it could be Sherman remaining the cornerstone of a Seahawks franchise he has already thought about leaving.
Amid the rise out of Seattle general manager John Schneider being so open on the radio Wednesday saying reports about the team’s trade talks about Sherman are “real,” this fact got lost: Not only is Sherman on board with Schneider’s public comments because they’ve already discussed them, Sherman wants to be traded. That’s the genesis of all this.
There is no other, logical explanation for the Seahawks being so open about shopping their three-time All-Pro cornerback to the highest possible bidder. The team’s coach and GM would breezily shoo away any trade questions – at least say, “we don’t discuss internal matters,” as they have many times before (such as here, about Sherman last season) – if Sherman hadn’t already been on board with talk of seeking a possible Seattle exit for him.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter came to this conclusion, too.
“My understanding was that Richard Sherman initiated this. He was looking to get out of Seattle,” Schefter said on the air Wednesday.
“He was open to that idea initially. They’re accommodating him by listening to trade offers, and they’ll see what happens. Again, I don’t know if anything happens here. But we’ll see if something materializes here before the draft.”
That begins April 27. And it is deep in quality cornerbacks and safeties.
Schneider would not be this transparent if Sherman didn’t ask for the team to explore how possible it is to deal him away. He has two seasons and $22,431,000 in base pay remaining on his contract extension he signed in May 2014 with the only NFL team he’s known.
Thing is, that possibility is remote. Right now, anyway.
Speculation – especially in April – is treacherous and usually foolish. But Schneider and the Seahawks have swung this door wide open.
First is what the Seahawks are likely to be asking for. Think: the moon. Maybe a few of its stars, too.
Think Pro Bowl-caliber starter with a contract more cap friendly than Sherman’s. Think high-, high-round draft picks. The ones the commissioner, not a league operations assistant or NFL guest, announce.
Think New England’s second-team All-Pro cornerback Malcolm Butler. The Patriots are reportedly one of the teams that has asked about what it would take to acquire Sherman. Still asking, according to the Boston Globe.
Problem there is the hero of Super Bowl 49 with the interception at the goal line of Russell Wilson to deny Seattle a second consecutive NFL title recently received the first-round tender from the Patriots as a restricted free agent for 2017. That means any team that wants to sign him would have to give New England a first-round pick. Schneider’s in the market of acquiring high picks for Sherman here, not giving them plus his All-Pro cover man away to create holes at both of the Seahawks’ cornerback spots this offseason.
Mike Florio of NBC Sports and Pro Football Talk has a lengthy explanation of a work-around to that first-round-pick requirement for Butler here, in the context of the New Orleans Saints being interested.
Plus, as the Globe’s Patriots beat writer Jeff Howe writes, Butler soon may not be New England’s to deal.
Then there’s Sherman’s contract. It has two years remaining on the four-year, $56 million extension he signed in 2014. Sherman’s 2017 base pay of $11,431,000 is fully guaranteed. His salary-cap charge for this year is $13.63 million.
That would take up half or more of the 2017 cap space currently available for all but eight teams. The four that could afford him the most right now are the 49ers, Browns, Jaguars and Titans. Those four teams combined to go 15-49 last season.
Think Sherman would want a deal to San Francisco, Cleveland, Jacksonville or Tennessee? At age 29? At age 79? Any age?
But next year? Sherman’s so-called “dead money,” the cost against the cap should the Seahawks cut him, goes from that $15.8 million now to $2.2 million in 2018, when his scheduled base pay of $11 million is not guaranteed. That would be the time for the Seahawks to strike a rich deal. They would have the leverage of competitive offers to trade him, to avoid him him playing a final year of his contract at age 30 knowing that unlike other potential suitors Seattle wasn’t going to give him another extension, at least for anywhere near the cash he got in his last one.
As Sherman said last week on ESPN: “It’s a business.”
All of this adds up to what Schneider said Wednesday: “I don’t know if anything would ever happen.”
In the strong likelihood it doesn’t and Sherman isn’t going anywhere but back into his blue-and-green uniform with number 25, the Seahawks will be left with Sherman starting at left cornerback for the seventh consecutive season.
But it will be the first season he’ll be starting with he, the Seahawks, you, me and the football world knowing he is all for being out of Seattle.