New England Patriots: Has Team Been Priced Out On Richard Sherman?

The New England Patriots have been interested in a Richard Sherman trade, but have the Seattle Seahawks” demands priced them out?

If there’s one thing Bill Belichick is willing to do, it’s make trades. This offseason alone, the New England Patriots have taken cheap fliers on Dwayne Allen and Kony Ealy, essentially sacrificing nothing in terms of draft capital in order to acquire potential breakout players at marquee positions. In the past, Belichick has found cornerstone pieces at bargain prices on the trade market, with Randy Moss, Aqib Talib, and LeGarrette Blount as three distinctly different examples.

The Patriots have spent big on trade targets before, but this is rare. A famous example of this occurred in the past when the Patriots traded a second and seventh-round pick to the Miami Dolphins for Wes Welker, and they upped the ante this year by trading a first-round pick for Brandin Cooks.

If the Pats decide to make Richard Sherman their highest-profile trade acquisition in recent memory, then they would have to spend a little more than what they gave up for Cooks. According to the NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo, the Seattle Seahawks would like a first-round pick and a mid-round pick in exchange for Sherman, adding that no team has approached their demands in trade talks.

It’s no surprise that teams aren’t willing to spend two valuable picks on Sherman, especially since they could just surrender the No. 13 overall pick to New England for Malcolm Butler. Yes, Sherman is better and signed on for one more year, but he’s also older and will make over $22 million in those two seasons.

Sherman is supposed to be Butler’s potential replacement if the New Orleans Saints decide to surprise us and sign or trade for the former undrafted free agent. However, if Sherman costs more than what Butler would in a trade, why would the Patriots make the move? They wouldn’t exactly be replacing Butler, since they’d be losing more value in the end. Sherman’s contract isn’t bad for an elite player, and he’ll continue to be highly effective in those two years. The question is, how hard would it be to re-sign Butler in the future, and just how much better is Sherman?

Based on how the Patriots like to find value when they trade for veteran players, it’s hard to see them showing interest in Sherman. He would be a dream fit for the Patriots and has been one of the most productive players in the NFL over the past handful of seasons, but the Pats could do quite a bit of damage with those two picks. Considering how trigger-happy Belichick is when it comes to trades, that mid-round pick alone could be worth a useful veteran player. I mean, the Patriots didn’t even have to give a full pick to acquire Ealy, and they received a sixth-round pick and Allen for their fourth-round draft choice.

It looks like Sherman is too expensive for the Patriots right now, but the Seahawks could decrease their demands even further. As Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio notes, Garafolo’s report that the ‘Hawks are seeking a first and third-round pick is actually a decrease in demands, because Seattle previously wanted “a very good player” in addition to “a high draft pick” (from the Miami Herald’s Armando Salguero).

Now, although the fact that the Seahawks asked for such a high price initially might make it seem like they aren’t desperate to trade Sherman, I’d argue the opposite is true. Because Seattle has already backed down on their demands slightly, they might actually have a more fractured relationship with Sherman than they are letting on. Remember, when the Seahawks traded Percy Harvin, we didn’t get any rumblings of tension in the locker room until after the fact. Now, it’s clear that Sherman and his teammates have a fantastic relationship, but what if the Seahawks coaching staff or front office isn’t as lenient with Sherman as we once thought?

It’s worth at least thinking about, because this is similar to the situation that unfolded when Cooks was traded to New England. Like Sherman, Cooks wasn’t completely happy with everything in New Orleans, and the Saints tried to act like they weren’t that into trading a talented player. But, of course, they made the deal anyway.

If the Seahawks lower their demands to a straight Sherman-for-a-first swap, then I could see the Patriots jumping all over that deal…if Butler leaves. At the end of the day, all of this talk comes down to Butler’s future in Foxboro, and, as with quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, it doesn’t seem like we’ll get any movement on that front.

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