Seahawks fans do not want to admit it, but it is slowly becoming more of a reality; Sherman is no longer a shutdown cornerback. It is no secret that Richard Sherman is being shopped around for draft picks and or players, but at the end of the day the NFL is a business. Should the Seahawks pull the trigger and trade him away, it is important to state that while this would be great for the franchise long-term, it would be devastating to morale.
“I’m the best player in the game!” We all remember that from the NFC Championship. While he will never be able to run from that ten seconds of emotion, let’s consider the reality if that is still even true. A quick look at his stats scream multiple Pro Bowl appearances, potential Hall of Fame, maybe a chance to retire his number in CenturyLink Field. That being said there is a noticeable decline in play from his first four years to his last two.
Let’s look at some numbers: 6, 5, .3, 15.3. In six years Sherman has averaged five interceptions, a third returned for a touchdown, and a little over fifteen passes defended per year including his stellar 2012 and 2013 seasons, the true outliers for this data. Take out those two seasons and interceptions drop to under four, he has no touchdowns, and passes defended drops to around thirteen. True, many quarterbacks have been avoiding his side of the field because the Seahawks usually don’t have Sherman shadow star receivers. However, in recent years his style of play has been taking a hit and quarterbacks are looking back in his direction to open up the field again.
Review the first time Seattle faced Atlanta during the 2016 season. There were multiple times when Julio Jones sped past Sherman and he could not keep up. If it were not for Earl Thomas in the defensive backfield, Sherman would be exposed more frequently. Quarterbacks are beginning to target Sherman more often because his aggressive play leads to unnecessary gambles and risks that too often pay off quite well for opposing offenses. Yes, he has a natural skillset for his position, but his errors have led to 17 penalties for 175 yards. He is one of the most penalized Seahawks in the last two years.
While we are seeing an increase in penalties committed by Sherman that have the potential to cost points, he does bring a tremendously valuable asset to the team; heart. It is well known within the Seahawks communities that Sherman’s love for the game, his coaches, his teammates and the city are unmatched by anyone on the roster. He gives his all every game, stands above as a leader for others to follow, and internalizes Pete Carroll’s philosophy about what it means to be a competitor.
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If you take away that foundational piece from the Legion of Boom, that loss will reverberate throughout the facility and stadium. When the team is up, Sherman can be seen on the side lines cheering both the team and fans up. During times of struggle, he’s there in the trenches boosting morale, talking to players, working to bring the game back, never giving up. Take away him and the game forces someone else to step up; that is not always easy, or worse, can even backfire. Of course the fans feed on the energy and intensity from the defense. Sure you have Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas, but Sherman is that special factor that raises everyone up to a new level.
Even businesses will take a hit. A quick glance at popular Seahawks jerseys and you will see that Sherman is easily in the top five in sales. The name and brand he has created guarantees that if a business stocks their shelves with Sherman gear, it will sell. Should Sherman be traded, that merchandise becomes difficult to push, if it can even be sold at all. But this should not be a high priority reason why Sherman stays. There are many current and future stars that the Seahawks are constantly grooming that can be invested in. Jerseys and Seahawks memorabilia will continue sell and a smart business can market someone new to take over for Sherman.
The Seahawks do not want to develop Martinez Syndrome from the Mariners. While it is great to have a veteran on the team that the people love, it does not always equate to wins. Yes, it hurts to think that Sherman may be in another uniform, but the statistics and his injury rate make it reasonable to assume that he will hang up the cleats after eleven seasons. Therefore, knowing that there is potential for four, maybe five good seasons left, it is better to trade Sherman for a younger cornerback or some other position of need and get a first round pick. It will change up the defensive scheme, but it will equate to more time spent deep in the playoffs and being a Super Bowl contender for years to come.