That didn’t take long.
Less than 24 hours after the Seahawks officially waived-injured Richard Sherman, the three-time All-Pro cornerback was scheduled to meet Saturday with the NFC West-rival San Francisco 49ers about a possible free-agent contract. That was according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter Saturday morning.
Schefter reported the 49ers want to see how Sherman is progressing from surgeries on his torn Achilles then recent one on his other ankle before deciding whether to accelerate talks to a contract offer.
Sherman is representing himself with no agent. He is betting on himself in shopping instead of listening to Seattle’s idea of taking a big pay cut to play this year for the only NFL team he’s known up to now. And so far, just one day into availability, he’s winning. He has made it known he’s also gotten preliminary interest from the Titans, Lions, Raiders, Texans, Buccaneers and Packers. In other words, a quarter of the league.
He already has what every free agent wants to drive up his price: leverage. So forget those words from Sherman Friday that the Seahawks told him they would be interested in talking him about coming back to play for them if he doesn’t get an offer he likes in free agency.
Money talks. And other teams are undoubtedly going to offer him more than Seattle would be able to.
He turns 30 in three weeks. He’s looking to sign with a team that has an outstanding if not elite quarterback and is already a playoff contender. He doesn’t have time for rebuilds, not at his age and with the fact he wants to set himself this year for one more big-guarantee, multi-year contract in free agency this time next year.
The 49ers appear to have that quarterback in Jimmy Garoppolo, who was such a revelation winning the last five games of last season following his trade from New England that San Francisco gave him a record-setting extension this offseason. And the Niners have the cap room ($70 million as of Saturday morning) to offer Sherman a salary for 2018 he would like and still continue shopping at other positions. San Francisco could offer a deal that would make up much of the $11 million he was scheduled to earn this year--until the Seahawks decided they weren’t going to pay that.
Another team that has an elite quarterback that attracts Sherman: New England. But you probably don’t want to think about that. The Patriots entered Saturday with $20 million available under the salary cap--and that’s before they traded Saturday morning for Danny Shelton, the former Auburn High School and Washington Huskies star defensive tackle. Shelton has been scheduled to have a $3.7 million cap charge in 2018, the final year of his rookie contract as a first-round draft choice of the Cleveland Browns in 2015.
Sure, Sherman’s coming off a torn Achilles tendon that ended his 2017 season in November, then a second, minor surgery on his other ankle recently that’s had him in a walking boot. But he expects to be running on a field by the summer. And assuredly there will be a team willing to pay far more than Seattle could this year for a three-time All-Pro who’s won a Super Bowl at the second most valuable and difficult position to play in sports, behind quarterback.
The Seahawks, meanwhile, now have another hole in their roster: the left-cornerback spot Sherman had locked down from October 2011 until this past November. Byron Maxwell ended up taking the injured Sherman’s place there the last month and a half of the 2017 season. He is on his way to becoming a free agent when the market opens Wednesday. Maxwell played well at times after Seattle re-acquired their 2013 starting right cornerback during last season. At age 30 he will be seeking a multi-year deal for far more than the veteran minimum of $775,000 he played for last year.
Seattle has apparently made a decision on DeShawn Shead, who has played three positions in the Seahawks’ secondary in his career. He is due to become a free agent Wednesday after playing the final two games of last season in his return from reconstructive knee surgery in January 2017. Seattle’s KJR-AM radio reported Saturday Shead’s agent said the Seahawks have decided to release Shead to let him test free agency next week instead of re-signing him before that.
Seattle did that last year at this time when it did not tender Shead an offer for 2017 as a restricted free agent. After he met with the Buffalo Bills about a possible contract Shead re-signed with the Seahawks for last season.
DeAndre Elliott as a restricted free agent Seattle will have to tender a contract offer for 2018 to keep.
And, of course, the Seahawks have April’s draft, where they currently own eight picks (at 18th overall in the first round, then one in the fourth round, four in the fifth and two in the seventh). And with Sherman’s release, the waiving Friday of defensive back Jeremy Lane and this week’s trade of Michael Bennett , the Seahawks have $17.95 million more in cap space to buy a cornerback.