The Seahawks’ championship window could be closing over the next few years. Can they really afford to trade their star cornerback, Richard Sherman?
This is a team that once grabbed a last-minute onside kick en route to winning the NFC title. It’s a team that rallied from nine points down in minus-6 degree weather one day, and won on the infamous “Fail Mary” another.
When discussing the Seahawks, labeling any situation as a “no-win” would be silly based on their history. But this Richard Sherman situation? It’s about as close to “no win” as it gets.
In the latest chapter of this “is this real life?” saga, ESPN reported that Seattle was not only entertaining Sherman trade talks, but initiating them, too. This comes after Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider confirmed trade talks in separate interviews.
It appears this ordeal has gone well past the point of “sending Richard a message” and approaching the point of “sending Richard packing.” The only problem is figuring out how the organization benefits from any decision it makes.
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Decision No. 1 is that the Hawks keep the Pro Bowl cornerback and watch the drama from last year increase tenfold. Can you really picture Sherman reporting to OTAs on bended knee with a promise to change his ways?
As Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin said, nobody on the team has ever once heard Sherman apologize. And that was before this offseason of public humiliation.
If Sherman’s defiance is fire, then criticism is gasoline. The more his behavior is questioned or condemned, the more resistant he becomes.
Sherman chastising Carroll for throwing the ball from the 1 in December was a strange but momentary disruption. But his refusal to acknowledge any wrongdoing set off a chain of events that have snowballed into absurdity.
Obviously, if the Seahawks have been aggressive in trying to move Sherman, they saw his antics as detrimental. And given how they’ve voiced their disapproval for the whole world to hear, logic suggests it will only get worse.
Carroll can’t afford such volatility. He can’t risk losing the locker room’s respect for tacitly approving disobedience.
In other words, it doesn’t seem the Seahawks can win by keeping Sherman on board.
On the other hand … how do they win by trading him?
There might have been a time when you could cite Brandon Browner or Byron Maxwell and say Seattle’s system is what makes a good corner. Since then, however, we’ve seen players such as Jeremy Lane struggle mightily on the Seahawks’ back end.
Regardless of your opinion of Sherman as a person, he’s still an elite cornerback on a cornerback-starved team. Get rid of him, and the 13 quarterbacks on the Seahawks’ schedule will salivate instantly.
Even if the team got a first- and third-round pick in return — which seems far-fetched — the likelihood of equaling Sherman’s value is minimal. Drafts are crapshoots. They end with question marks, not exclamation points.
But do you know what few people question? That the Seahawks’ championship window is closing at Formula-1 speed.
With an aging defense, the next couple of years might be the best shot the team has at a Super Bowl for a decade or two. Annoyed as Sherman and the Seahawks might be at each other, their best chance of increasing their ring count is to stay united.
Plus, how would Richard’s defensive teammates take the news of his departure? Do you see Michael Bennett staying mum on the loss of a potential Hall of Famer? Would fellow Pro Bowler Bobby Wagner be cool with the franchise shipping off his uber-talented friend?
Theoretically, the Seahawks trying to strengthen the locker-room vibe might actually cripple it. Especially if Sherman ends up having a career year elsewhere.
Oh yeah, it could happen. Look what a spurned Shaquille O’Neal did in his first year in Miami. He shed about 50 pounds and had an MVP-caliber season. A malcontented Randy Johnson went 9-10 with the Mariners in the first two-thirds of the 1998 season, then went 10-1 with the Astros in the final two months. And then there’s Terrell Owens, who was always a model citizen in his first season with a new team, including the Eagles, whom he helped lead to the Super Bowl.
Sherman’s pride was an impediment for much of the season last year. It will be an invaluable asset if he gets the chance to show his former team up.
Hey, perhaps there is still a way to fix all of this. Perhaps Carroll proves himself as a master mediator, or Sherman has an epiphany, or the team rattles off six straight wins at the beginning of the season, and the chemistry is renewed. And then maybe all this becomes a laughable blip within the Seahawks’ dynasty.
But that doesn’t seem likely. Not this time.
Few teams can manufacture a win quite like the Seahawks. If they do so with Sherman, it will be one of their more impressive victories.