The news from John Schneider’s Wednesday interview on ESPN Radio in Seattle wasn’t that the Seahawks GM is listening to offers for star corner Richard Sherman.
It was that Schneider was talking so openly about it.
I’ve always argued to coaches and general managers that there is little gained or lost competitively in what they say to all of us in the media. But the fact is that because it happens so rarely — Schneider told radio hosts Brock Huard and Mike Salk that what “you’ve seen lately in the news is real” — a football exec simply confirming that he’s even listened to the idea of dealing a cornerstone is going to turn heads.
So I texted Sherman, and he gave me an answer that sounded remarkably similar to what his GM said: “Very little chance it happens, but both sides are listening. I honestly don’t have much more to say about it than what I’ve already said. We have a great relationship. … There is a lot of love and respect. There is no bad blood.”
As for the idea that the Seahawks might be sending him a message, Sherman quickly responded that he’s not taking it that way: “Not at all. I’m not in the least bit concerned about that.”
April is the time of the NFL calendar when you have to be careful parsing what you believe from what you hear. But at the very least, Schneider has swung open the door for business, and the Sherman trade story figures to linger at least until we know who’ll make up the Seahawks’ draft class at the end of the month.
Would it buck convention for a team in the middle of a championship window to deal a cornerstone, one who was arguably the face of the run to its only world title? Sure, it would. But Schneider and Pete Carroll aren’t prisoners to convention. They weren’t when they anointed a 5-foot-10 franchise QB, they weren’t when they dealt for Marshawn Lynch, Percy Harvin or Jimmy Graham, and they won’t be now.
So, as I understand it, the Seahawks are now looking at getting ahead of the aging of their core. Seattle has 10 players taking up 61 percent of its cap space — those guys count for a total of $101.26 million on the ’17 cap — and all 10 have played at least five NFL seasons. Seven of the 10 are 28 or older, and Earl Thomas and K.J. Wright will make it nine of 10 before the season starts.
The idea here is to find a way to extend that aforementioned window, lots of solutions have been discussed, and the secondary is an easy place to start. Yes, the team’s identity has been built there, but Kam Chancellor is in a contract year, and Thomas and Sherman are up after 2018. Sherman and Chancellor turn 30 next spring. The three take up $32.156 million on Seattle’s cap. And this year’s draft is strong at both corner and safety.
That’s why Seattle had conversations at the combine involving Sherman — remember, Carroll’s scheme values safeties over corners — and let him know about it beforehand. It’s why the idea hasn’t come off the table yet. And it’s why Schneider didn’t seem to mind sending a signal affirming that over the Seattle airwaves.
For Sherman’s part, he’s seen players at his position like Darrelle Revis and Aqib Talib enhance their Q-rating later in their careers by switching teams. It certainly won’t do any less to stoke his competitive fire.
So what teams would be most interested in dealing for Sherman? The Patriots and Raiders have been the two most mentioned as good fits, as both have needs at cornerback. But others could still emerge, especially in the days leading up to and after the draft. Remember, the draft is deep at cornerback, which complicates the market a bit for a potential Sherman trade.
And so it’ll come up plenty over the next few weeks.