BY Art Thiel 06:30AM 03/09/2018

Thiel: Sherman’s Seahawks time not ending well

A month ago, Richard Sherman was confident he would return to the Seahawks. Apparently, he didn’t hear the emergency alarms going off around the team.

Richard Sherman, after his tipped pass against the 49ers in 2014 sent the Seahawks to the Super Bowl. / Drew McKenzie, Sportspress Northwest

Never is it dull around Richard Sherman. He is a bright, bold thinker and speaker. If he were no longer a part of the Seahawks, the Seattle sports scene would be notably poorer. He’s also had some testy times, be it with coaches, teammates or media, even back to his Stanford days under then-coach Jim Harbaugh. The edginess added to the drama.

But last month he offered some relatively benign thoughts about his playing future that, upon reflection, were the signals that things would not end well with him in Seattle.

He attended the annual Sports Star of the Year at the Sheraton as a presenter, and three of us scribes successfully executed press coverage on him as he ambled down a hotel hallway.

Given that he was entering his contract season injured and owed $11 million, Sherman was asked if there was any question he would be back with the Seahawks in 2018.

“Not in my mind,” he said. “Just get healthy and get back after it.”

Asked whether he had talked contract with Pete Carroll/John Schneider, he said no.

“I’m not sure what they think,” he said. “But it doesn’t change anything for me. If we have the talks, we do. If we don’t, it is what it is.’’

He went on to explain that he would no longer have an agent and would represent himself in any negotiation. He also said he would shortly undergo an operation to remove ankle bone spurs on his “good” left leg, the one that didn’t have surgery to repair a torn Achilles tendon. He probably wouldn’t return to running until late April or early May.

Uh-oh.

Not only was each development a red flag, Sherman seemed to think that the Seahawks — and really, every other NFL team — would share his belief that he would be 100 percent of normal by the time the regular season began, if not weeks earlier.

What he didn’t seem to understand was that his team was in something of a crisis of cascading events that overtook any previous long-term plans.

Nor did he seem to realize that the new business year for the NFL would begin March 14, by when the Seahawks would need more salary cap space to help fix some of their numerous personnel problems via free agency ahead of the draft in late April.

The Seahawks had already flushed six assistant coaches, including the three highest-ranking members of the staff. The sound of the franchise’s emergency klaxons was louder than anything produced by the 12s.

Apparently, Sherman missed the cue that many important, expensive people are being tossed from the boat as Seahawks attempt a single-season recovery back to contention.

If reports are true this week, Sherman was told privately that, in the absence of an acceptance of a pay cut, he was going to be released, perhaps as soon as Friday. Sherman Wednesday apparently began texting his farewells to some teammates, one of which was fellow CB Jeremy Lane:

Sherman, who went to Las Vegas Thursday to attend a meeting of the players association,  was later reported to have told others that nothing was certain. The Seahawks are saying nothing.

But some points are obvious.

The Seahawks in March don’t want to risk missing out on $11 million in salary cap relief in the hope that he’s 100 percent in September. Nor is the team likely to find a trade partner willing to accept the expensive contract as well as the health risks.

A release means Sherman immediately becomes a free agent. In theory, the Seahawks could bid for Sherman at a lower price. But that outcome seems improbable by either side: Sherman likely will deem Seattle’s half-price interest as disrespectful, and the Seahawks a year ago volunteered publicly that they were willing to trade a healthy, productive and one-year younger Sherman for the right price.

Sherman turns 30 on March 30, which by itself is not onerous. But by March 14, he will be unable to pass a physical exam, or even run. As NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport pointed out, that may not happen until May or June, when most teams are learning first-hand about their new players.

As they did Wednesday in trading DE Michael Bennett to the Eagles for a small draft upgrade and an obscure candidate for the fifth receiver position, the Seahawks are willing to shed premier players in order to get younger, healthier and cheaper — fast, for little in return.

The fact that Sherman and Bennett are hugely popular with fans has no bearing. Their age and injuries, along with same to fellow championship stalwarts SS Kam Chancellor and DE Cliff Avril, made them vulnerable to the NFL’s ruthless cruelty.

As Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times pointed out, jettisoning Bennett, Sherman, Lane and Avril, among others, could get the Seahawks around $38 million to $40 million under the cap, announced recently as $177.2 million this season, up $10 million from a year ago. But that puts Seattle merely in the middle of teams with cap room.

Free agency is often a sketchy way to improve an NFL team, but since the Seahawks haven’t drafted well lately, there’s not much choice if they want to keep to Carroll’s dictum to never take a year off from contending.

Carroll and Schneider never expected to be in this position. Neither, apparently, did Sherman. The ooga horns make it hard to think.

 


YourThoughts

  • Matt Kite

    Man, I hate the salary cap. It’s been brutal to watch the Seahawks slowly liquidate the roster that won the 2014 Super Bowl. Now they’re down to the big names. It was awful to see Bennett go. Now Sherman? I have a feeling the next few seasons could be cruel.

    • Tman

      You are right. The salary cap is likely illegal. Who has the right to limit anyone’s legitimate income in America?

      A solution. Cap owners income, too. Put anything left over into a fund to help house the homeless, provide health care for those who cannot afford surgery or chemo and a fund to provide tickets so low income families may take their children to see a game.

      Another solution. Make billionaires in America pay their fare share of tax.

      • art thiel

        The cap wouldn’t exist if the players association didn’t agree to it. It’s called collective bargaining. Been around for more than 100 years. All sports have some version of it

        It works for the NFL because it distributes talent sufficiently that every year 25 or so fan bases believe that if things go right, they have a legit shot. It’s a fundamental part of the game’s popularity.

    • art thiel

      You’re looking at a void before you’ve given them a chance to fill it. Patience.

  • Tman

    The Seahawks saved a million on a kicker last year. Is there some other reason they weren’t in the playoffs?

    • Ron

      Seahawks would have won the Super Bowl “if” they stayed healthy.

      • art thiel

        Happens all the time around the NFL, unless you’re ready to trade Wilson at his peak because he’ll reap draft choices desperately needed.

    • art thiel

      Failures on D and O. Blaming the kicker for the seasonal outcome is like a coroner listing as cause of death a shaving cut on a man who was shot.

  • John M

    It will be a whole new world on D, different voices and look, new leaders emerging. The spotlight is now on Kam and Sheldon. The offensive leaders (so far) look the same, but the year is young. I hate this part of the game, while being intrigued by who will rise to an opportunity and surprise.

    Everyone has seen wholesale changes to a team result in unexpected wins in the first half of a season, until everyone else has enough footage to anticipate the new-kink strategies. Looks like another 7-9 at best to me. Hope they prove me wrong . . .

    • art thiel

      I don’t think Kam or Sheldon will be part of the mix. But it’s way early to tell about September when they haven’t spent a dime yet.

  • DJ

    Thanks Art – and I used to have an Aoooga horn but the horn relay was never stuck like it is now for the Hawks – how apropos!

    So, in piecing together where we are now, the Carroll-Schneider Seahawks originally built themselves up to championship form via muchos personnel transactions and several great draft picks, planned on sustaining themselves via continuous competition,

    only to fall to a few years of meager draft picks,

    and that expensive veterans unexpectedly won the continuous competition battles, pricing the team out of roster wiggle room.

    So I’d expect that the “model” to building a championship team the Carroll-Schneider way is going to see rev A. It’s funny that what was originally a remarkable feat, and sustained for several years, has now been so tarnished by the quick fall of the last two years. This makes the peak run of the Patriots so much more remarkable. I’m not ready to see our heroes playing on other rosters, but I am anxious to see what magic C&S can create in rev A.

    As always, and always for Sherm, Bennett, Cliff and Cam, GO HAWKS!!

    • DJ

      RS 25 – Always and forever man!

    • Centiorari

      The Patriots are very good at getting rid of players when they still have value either in trade or comp picks. Combine that with a flexible scheme and willingness to look for what a player does well instead of focusing on what you need or want him to do has allowed them to continually field a competitive roster. Of course, it always helps when you have a franchise Quarterback who takes a severe pay cut. Teams and Players could learn from this but seem to always miss the point year after year.

      • art thiel

        That Brady is willing to play below market is huge.

    • art thiel

      For their plan to have worked, they couldn’t have mistakes like Harvin and McDowell, and to a lesser extent, Graham. Getting little value out of the first round was a killer.

      • Husky73

        Actually, even with their miscues, their plan worked….save for a kicker. They were two easy kicks away from 11-5 this past season.

  • jafabian

    Tough seeing good players go but it’s the nature of the business. Based on Earl Thomas’ recovery time when he broke his keg Sherman might not. be able to play until October and even then there’s no guarantee that he’ll be at top form when he returns. When Curt Warner returned from his ACL injury it took a full year to get his form back and he was much younger. Seems to me the club isn’t willing to negotiate any sort of options with Sherman. Take a pay cut or we’ll cut you. They didn’t even give Bennett that choice. Wish the club drafted better the past few seasons and had players ready to step in. Like when Marcus Trufant retired and Sherman was there. The upcoming draft is going to be very important now. I really thought Sherman would end his career here with Wilson and Baldwin though. He’ll still be in the Ring though.

    • art thiel

      Sherman’s volatility and need to be right factored into this, although Carroll won’t say so. He was in a few moments insubordinate. Confronting coaches publicly on the sidelines is a really bad look.

      • tor5

        I’ll always have a fondness for Sherm, but some of those sideline tantrums were way out of line, and never followed by apology as far as I know.

        I hear you saying that there is no real chance he returns to the Hawks. Are you able to speculate on what Schneider might have been willing to pay, and if Sherm can do better with another team? He might pay some coin for his pride, no?

        I thank him for his great play, reliability, and commentary and wish him well in any case.

    • WestCoastBias79

      I do wonder if Shaq Griffin looking like a stud makes this a bit easier? He very well could be the next in line, as in Trufant to Sherm to Shaq.

  • WestCoastBias79

    At least they’re willing to blow it up. The only reason they were contenders last year was injuries seemed to take out everyone else in the NFC. This team as constructed has a Wild Card weekend ceiling. Yes, Blair Walsh missed some FG’s, but the defense was not the defense of old, even when healthy. Kirk Cousins doesn’t lead a game winning drive at the Clink against the 2014 D. Watson doesn’t put up 38 against the 2014 D. The Rams don’t put up 42 against the 2014 D. The Jags don’t run all over the 2014 D. You get my point.

    I appreciate they’re willing to blow it up as opposed to the Mariners amazing quest for perpetual mediocrity by refusing to start over (Old Griffey! Old Ichiro!), or the Sonics bringing in old Patrick Ewing to try and extend that window.

    All that said, it sucks seeing these guys go, but we all knew they weren’t retiring as Seahawks. That doesn’t happen anymore. Only guy who might have a shot at that is Russell Wilson.

    • art thiel

      A blowing up would include Wilson. This is a major retooling. You don’t beat the Eagles with Wentz in December with a team needing blowing up.

      Having said that, a hard, harsh look was forced upon them by the injuries to Sherman, Chancellor and Avril. The cost/benefit ratio of keeping them as they age exploded.

      • WestCoastBias79

        Correct, I should have clarified as blowing up the defense, and you’re right, they’re not really blowing it up, they’re retooling, unless they shock me, they still have Wagner piloting the front seven and Earl piloting the secondary. This just feels like a gut punch, and I tend to go all hyperbole when that happens.

      • Brig Boring

        You do if your team lays down to the Rams 42-7 at home. That was a character test that players and coaches both flunked badly.

  • Husky73

    One point of disagreement— I don’t think Sherman and Bennett were hugely popular with fans. I think the Seattle fans tolerated them and appreciated them for being important members of the Pete Carroll/John Schneider era. When they are both gone, there will be a greater sense of relief than unhappiness. However, when the Seahawks Super Bowl championship team has its twenty year reunion, they will be warmly remembered and applauded.