BY Art Thiel 12:13PM 03/12/2018

Thiel: Seahawks had no real urge to keep Sherm

The report that GM John Schneider declined to match 49ers’ offer to Sherman tells all about how urgently the Seahawks had to move on from their broken D.

After a 2014 Thanksgiving Day win over the 49ers, Seahawks CB Richard Sherman walked off the Levi’s Stadium field with an additional prize supplied by NBC in a post-game stunt. SF fans were furious. But no longer. / Drew McKenzie, Sportspress Northwest

The vote is in from the guy who feels the Richard Sherman departure more than anyone in Seattle. Tweeted Seahawks WR Doug Baldwin Sunday morning:

“Well, this sucks.”

Not only had a good friend and teammate blown town, Baldwin has to go up against Sherman, presuming a return to good health, twice next season as a member of the San Francisco 49ers.

Not that Baldwin isn’t used to trash talk after seven years of practice against Sherman. But now it’s real between a team on the way up, and Baldwin’s team, which at the moment seems to have put on its downhill skis.

Then again, it’s possible to say this early in the NFL year that the Seahawks already have hit the snow fence and slid down broken to the lodge. Or have you forgotten the 42-7 loss to the Rams at the Clink Dec. 17?

That was the bottom — as bad as a Seattle team coached by Pete Carroll has looked.

It’s true the defense that day because of injuries was missing Sherman, Kam Chancellor and Cliff Avril. LB Bobby Wagner played but was hurt and ineffective, which led to a dispute between him and Earl Thomas as to whether he should have even tried to play.

At some point this off-season, it figures that Carroll and GM John Schneider would have said to each other: If everyone were healthy, would we have won that game? After all, a week earlier ,they beat 24-10 an Eagles team with QB Carson Wentz that subsequently won the Super Bowl.

I would submit that the Seahawks would have lost to the Rams that day no matter what, because the Seahawks physically and psychologically were no longer able to sustain premier play. The Rams could do that, maturing quickly into a serious contender by getting quality play from younger, healthier players.

Like the Seahawks did in 2013.

In 2017, the NFC West already had flipped. The Seahawks were past tense. Rams coach Sean McVay knew it.

“I could feel it before the game — these guys were so ready for this moment,” he told’s Mike Silver after the game. “It was the same feeling I got before we played the Cardinals in London (33-0 win), and I loved what I saw: They were locked in, focused, determined and pumped.

“And that’s when I knew I didn’t really have to say anything at all.”

This was his pre-game talk: “Nothing needs to be said. We’re ready. Let’s (expletive) go!”

Lost in the postseason belief by many Seahawks fans that a few more field goals would have made the Seahawks 11-5 or 12-4 was the fact that Carroll/Schneider recognized this iteration of the Seahawks passed its expiration date with the Rams outcome. They knew it because the defensive core, if retained, could only get older and slower, not better, not even as good.

They had drafted so poorly over the past four years that a smooth transition wasn’t possible. The team were on reserve parachutes, and the ground was coming up way too fast.

The tell on that epiphany came Monday in Peter King’s intriguing Sports Illustrated story about how the Sherman-to-49ers deal transpired. From a Seattle perspective, the most revealing disclosure was that Sherman Saturday agreed to take the 49ers offer and allow the Seahawks to match it.

Schneider said no.

Sherman reported Schneider told him the incentives in the deal “were too rich for me.” Which is remarkable, given that further reporting on Sherman’s deal disclosed it was team-friendly and amounted to a one-year deal the 49ers could escape if Sherman’s injury recovery didn’t go well.

Reporting by Pro Football Talk and said the deal includes only $3 million guaranteed. Then Sherman gets $2 million roster bonus on the first day of camp if he passes a physical. His base salary in 2018 is $2 million.

Additionally, there’s a per-game 46-man roster bonus of $2 million ($125,000 per game); a workout bonus of $50,000, a playing time incentive (90 percent of the team’s defensive snaps) of $1 million; a Pro Bowl incentive of $1 million and first- or second-team All-Pro, $2 million.

There are escalators in the deal for 2019 and 2020 that favor Sherman, but they are triggered by his achievements in 2018 after a surgery that typically takes 10 to 12 months for a return to full health. His Achilles tendon was repaired in mid-November, and his left ankle had surgery last month to remove bone spurs.

To get the full amount of the contract’s $39.15  million, the incentives mandate that Sherman, who turns 30 March 30, would have to be voted All-Pro (not the Pro Bowl) for all three years.

The upshot is that the Seahawks said no to matching a cheaper deal than the $11 million they would have paid him to play in 2018. If Sherman played in all 16 games, but won no awards, he could make up to $10 million. That means that, diplomatic rhetoric aside, the Seahawks weren’t open to having him back, especially if they presumed he wouldn’t be full strength by the season opener.

Then there’s the potential headache of managing Sherman’s recovery if the club wants to hold him out to prevent recurrence, and the stubborn Sherman knows the decision would cost him money.

Even if Sherman goes on to have a successful season, the Seahawks had to have believed they couldn’t get tied up in more multi-year extensions in the same positional unit after the injury to Chancellor in the first of his three seasons made it a bad decision.

Naturally, Sherman will turn the Seahawks’ predicament into a snub suitable for re-launching the Seahawks-49ers rivalry. In King’s story, he admitted that going to a team that plays Seattle twice was a large incentive.

Apparently he was also inspired when one knucklehead fan trolled the Seattle base by burning Sherman’s jersey in a Twitter post.

“I’m vengeful in that way,” Sherman said. “I love the (Seahawks) fan base to death, and I loved playing there. It was such a great opportunity. I helped the organization get to a great place and stay there.

“But now it’s like I abandoned them. People are out there burning my jersey. Come on. I’m not the one who let me go. They let me go. I didn’t abandon anybody.”

As he put it Monday morning at his first media conference call from Niners’ team headquarters in Santa Clara, “It re-ignited that gasoline fire I’ve always had burning . . . I’ve got a lot of people to put on a show for.

“I’m thankful. It’s motivation for me.”

Think of it this way, Seattle fans: It’s time again to get out the Sharpie and circle the dates for 49ers games. The only thing better would be if 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan fires his offensive coordinator and brings back Jim Harbaugh.



  • Ron

    Reports are that PC and JS wanted to “quiet down” the team and hence the departures of the two loudest members, Sherm and Bennett.

    Bradley McDougald agreed to deal to return to the Seahawks today.

    • PRISM-theNewSocialNetwork

      I think McDougald and Coleman are quality…

  • 1coolguy

    Even a 3/4 speed Sherm with his intelligence, mastery of a position Carroll values highly, leadership and outright love of the team, I would have matched the Niners offer. Sherm should have been a Hawk for life – this is a debacle, as he brought SO MUCH to the team .

    • Ron

      Sherman’s intelligence failed him in negotiating skills. Got crushed by the Niners according to this story…

    • PRISM-theNewSocialNetwork

      Yeah, that deal is pretty friendly. And if he couldn’t play well enough, he’d know it and could have retired a Seahawk.
      I think they kept Bevell too long, and drained the energy out of perhaps the best defense ever. When the GOAT shouts on the sideline at the least imaginative OC ever, who should get fired?

      • art thiel

        Remember that stretch a few years ago when the Seahawks averaged nearly 50 points over three games? Same OC then as last year. Same guy called the plays in the second half of 2015 when the Seahawks had the hottest offense in the game.

        • 1coolguy

          Yes, the stretch when GRAHAM was out with an injury, so Wilson / Bevel were not forced to throw to their “prized” receiver, and instead realized just how F’ing great DOUG BALDWIN is.

    • DJ

      D I T O – 1coolguy!

      Also, I’m thinking that the jersey burner was a band wagon jumper and Seattle transplant – what a bum!

      • Centiorari

        I think the senseless jersey burning is more a reflection on the item and person doing the burning than on the player who it represents. Many people won’t wear it again so they burn what they see as having no value, that they choose to do it on Youtube means that they have a need for attention. Ultimately, I doubt players care and I don’t really think the fan base honestly thinks they will. Although I will never really understand the fan base’s need to divide itself into imaginary divisions.

        • art thiel

          Sherman is using for motivation. I don’t sense a trend among fans.

      • art thiel

        True. Sherman didn’t cut himself, and the gave the Seahawks a chance to match.

    • art thiel

      Hard to argue. But if you look around the league, several premier players (Suh, Amendola, Nelson, etc) are being cut without compensation because of age, health and contract size. It’s how the business of the NFL is set up: To induce parity.

      In hindsight, the Seahawks may have been better off to have traded him a year ago when he had big value.

      • coug73

        A year ago the Hawks were playing for a Super Bowl. Who knew how difficult this would become for a talented team.

  • jafabian

    Back when the Dark Times fell upon us and Ken Behring passed on drafting Brett Favre for Dan McGwire Coach Chuck Knox told his coaching staff to get ready to coach their tails off because unless they could create a miracle season Behring wasn’t bringing anybody back.

    Based on the roster that Schneider and Carroll put together last season I thought that was the message they were sending. And maybe if there weren’t so many injuries and a little more trust in the running back committee a deep playoff run would have happened, Wilson wouldn’t have blown off concussion protocols, Thomas wouldn’t have ran after Jason Garrett and Michael Bennett wouldn’t have continued to kneel. Well, yes he would have. But even without injuries Paul Allen knows the signs of dysfunctionality. After all, he did run the Jail Blazers. And he blew them up too. But he’s yet to win an NBA Championship nor has the team returned there since the Clyde Drexler era. Will the Seahawks follow that trend of never returning to The Show?

    Like many athletes who have a number of seasons under their belt but are still a bit short on life experiences it could be said that certain Seahawks took their situation for granted. In regards to Sherman it’s too bad the club couldn’t have traded him but if you look at the career of Darrelle Revis now might be the time when Sherman begins to decline, two surgeries not withstanding. My only hope is that he doesn’t become the Seahawks answer to Randy Johnson. The one who won Cy Young awards when he left the Mariners.

  • tor5

    I appreciate all the insight you’ve brought in the recent Sherm articles, Art. Fascinating stuff. It seems Pete and John have concluded that even Sherm’s amazing talent (and the likelihood of its return) did not add to a net positive for the team. I wonder how much of this is the premium Pete puts on his “win forever” philosophy and the importance of the team mindset. Players who threaten that mindset — even if they are great talents and good teammates — might be seen as a net negative to the whole. It’s not necessarily being outspoken or politically active or disagreeing with coaches, but you can’t mess with the team’s collective head. It’s easy to see Sherm beginning to do that. He became such a star and such an individual that he was an unignorable mindset all his own.

  • Theyfinallyfiredcable

    I once worked at a company owned by Blair Bush many years ago ( some of the older Hawk fans might remember him ) . He said to me one day “The NFL is a young man’s game , it stands for Not For Long .” I’d have to look up the current stat , but I seem to recall the average NFL career is somewhere around 4 years . A lot of these guys like Kam and Sherm are 7 years into their careers now .

    The reason we’re in this situation is multiple years of poor draft picks , mostly involving a vain attempt at patching up the O-line with Dr. Frankenstein Cable making bottom round talent into high round draft picks – and Schneider’s propensity for trading away his first round picks for extra draft stock , or for a shiny penny like Jimmy Graham or Percy Harvin . Add to that a legendary defense already in place with no field time for the younglings , and here we sit ..

    There’s pattern here guys . Ya gotta reload before a Marshawn Lynch or a Richard Sherman or Kam Chancellor gets long in the tooth . Hopefully Delano Hill and Tedric Thompson are worthy of their 3rd and 4th round draft status , cause man do we ever need those boys to step up now !

  • Centiorari

    Sherman is not honestly surprised at some of the hate he is receiving, he is well versed in the emotions surrounding the NFL. Regardless of how the player leaves the team, going to a division rival (if the 49’ers can still be considered such) will always turn the stomachs of the fan base. If he really cared he would of shopped other options, he pretty much only met with one team before deciding to take deal below his prior deal. I think he legit wanted to play in the bay area, who can blame a player for wanting to play near his childhood home, but I also give him credit for using division status of the 49’ers to leverage the Hawks. It was as legitimate as it was spiteful, but it is his choice to make and the blow-back should of been expected and perhaps deserved. I wish him well, but fostering the chip on his shoulder has always been his mantra and we should not be surprised as a fan base to be used toward that goal.

  • TimJoFred

    This slide was started the day that Schneider decided to trade Unger away for Graham.

    • Ron

      But that trade was the result of the interception at the one yard line. Somebody (Pete, Bevell, John) thought we needed a big receiving weapon for the red zone. So the fate was sealed then.

      • Effzee

        The biggest mistake of all was holding on to Darrell “The Unemployed One” Bevell after the play which cannot be unseen.

        • Ron

          “The Unemployed One.” 😃

          Are you insinuating that the sun has set on Bevell’s career because he hasn’t been picked up by another team?
          XFL (2020) is coming soon.