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There has been a rash of speculation connecting the Cleveland Browns and San Francisco 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman. The five-time Pro Bowler is scheduled to be a free agent, and there is a zealous movement to try and get Sherman to come to the Browns.
I understand the allure of Sherman, but this is a move the Browns do not need to make.
Sherman is one of the best corners of his era, but that era is largely in the past. He’ll be 33 in March and coming off a season where he played just five games due to a lingering calf injury. He’s also had a torn Achilles that prematurely ended his 2017 season and sapped some of his speed.
Sherman isn’t the perennial All-Pro lockdown cornerback who led the Legion of Boom in Seattle. He hasn’t played at an All-Pro level since 2014. He did earn a Pro Bowl berth with a strong 2019 season for the 49ers and now-Browns defensive coordinator Joe Woods, but his best days are clearly behind him.
He’s not a bad player, don’t misconstrue the lack of interest as disrespect for what Sherman still offers. There are plenty of inferior CBs out there starting around the league. In a zone-heavy scheme, Sherman is still capable of playing his style of corner effectively enough. But that’s not what the Browns need in 2021 and beyond.
Aside from staying healthy — where Sherman doesn’t exactly help lately — the Browns’ biggest issue at outside CB was speed. Sherman has never been a guy who wins with his speed. He’s one of the most brilliant minds in the NFL, both on and off the field, but that’s not what the Browns are looking for. He’s a stop-gap solution for a team in need of a permanent fixture opposite Denzel Ward at CB.
Sherman’s own words indicate he might not be keen on coming to Cleveland. Remember, this is a player who slammed the Browns for hiring Kevin Stefanski as head coach a year ago. He also fabricated the story about Baker Mayfield not shaking his hand.
Cleveland would be better-served by chasing after the next Richard Sherman in the draft, not paying for the end of the career of Sherman himself. I hear the talk of moving him to safety, but I’m patently uncomfortable making a guy with declining physical gifts learn a new position for a year and then moving on.
Based on his contract situations and acting as his own agent, it’s extraordinarily unlikely Sherman would “settle” for anything less than the top dollar offered for his services, nor should he. That’s a gamble on a declining veteran I’d rather the Steelers or Ravens make, not the Browns. And Sherman’s own actions indicate he would probably be happier elsewhere, too.