Could Richard Sherman really return to the Seahawks?
It’s possible. Coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider said Saturday the door remains open for a reunion.
The two made those comments after Seattle finished its work in the 2021 draft and were asked about Sherman himself telling ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith on Friday that the Seahawks are one of four teams with which he has had conversations. The others, Sherman said, are the 49ers, with whom he played the past three seasons, the Raiders and New Orleans Saints.
Carroll confirmed the Seahawks have spoken with Sherman, saying, “I’ve talked to him quite a few times over the offseason.’’
But before pulling your old, dusty Sherman jersey out of the closet, Carroll made clear that nothing is imminent, saying that for now, the Seahawks may be full at the cornerback position.
“That’s not one of our thoughts right now that we’re going out and go get another guy at the spot,’’ Carroll said of the cornerback position. “But we’re always looking.’’
Seattle, likewise, may not fit what Sherman is looking for, which is a team with need and opportunity.
Sherman told Smith that his search for a new team was “on pause’’ until he saw how the draft unfolded.
“Once this draft process is complete my phone will ring a little more with teams who expected to get a guy and didn’t get a guy they wanted,’’ Sherman said.
Interestingly, every team Sherman mentioned as having had talks with drafted a cornerback.
In the fourth round on Saturday, the Seahawks took Tre Brown of Oklahoma, with Carroll then saying that Brown will start out as an outside cornerback and not as a nickel (Sherman has been an outside corner throughout his career).
That gives Seattle six players who appear to be competing for the outside corner spots, the others being veterans D.J. Reed, Ahkello Witherspoon, Tre Flowers, Damarious Randall and Pierre Desir as well as former UW Husky Jordan Miller. Both Witherspoon and Desir signed as veteran free agents in the offseason.
The Raiders, meanwhile, took Nate Hobbs of Illinois in the fifth round with the pick they got from the Seahawks for guard Gabe Jackson, while the 49ers drafted Ambry Thomas of Michigan in the third round and the Saints drafted Paulson Adebo of Stanford in the third round.
One reason Sherman has been connected to the Saints is that Kris Richard, who was Seattle’s defensive backs coach when Sherman was drafted by Seattle in 2011, is now the defensive backs coach for New Orleans. He also has a connection with the Raiders with former Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley now the DC there.
And Sherman, who is now 33, spent the past three seasons with the 49ers before his contract ran out and he became a free agent in March.
So, judging by what Sherman said about how the draft unfolds, his options might be even more squeezed unless there are other teams in the mix he didn’t mention.
But Carroll made clear that if Sherman were not to return to the Seahawks, it is not because of any lingering ill will resulting from Sherman’s departure after the 2017 season.
The Seahawks cut Sherman shortly before the free-agent period began in 2018 while he was still recovering from an Achilles tendon injury, something Sherman later indicated left him somewhat miffed.
“You just expect that after you’ve done so much for a franchise that they wouldn’t cut you while you’re hurt,” Sherman said in November 2018. “It’s kind of more of a respect thing than anything. But they did. So you’ve kind of got to roll with the business.”
Sherman also endured a rocky 2016 season in which at one point he publicly questioned the play-calling of offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, drawing something of a rebuke from Carroll. A 2018 Sports Illustrated story also painted a picture of the Seahawks deciding to let Sherman and a few other veterans go out of worries about coexisting with quarterback Russell Wilson.
But both Carroll and Schneider disputed that there were any hard feelings to mend.
Schneider noted he was talking to Sherman 10 minutes before he signed his deal with the 49ers in March 2018 and that the talk of any bad blood between Sherman and Seattle “was blown out of proportion. … It wasn’t as bad as everyone thought it was when he left.’’
And Carroll said he has kept in contact with Sherman throughout.
“We have stayed in touch for a long time,’’ Carroll said. “And I don’t think that should surprise you because just think about all of the guys that have left here, that have done so much for this program and our area and all of that, and whether they’re still playing or they’re not playing we’ve maintained really significant relationships. And Sherm’s one of those guys.’’
So, Carroll insisted, whether or not the Seahawks and Sherman reunite will be solely a football decision.
“We’ll see what happens,’’ Carroll said. “But he’s been a great player and he’s still got some ball left in him, I’m sure. But at this point, you know, we’re gonna clear through this day, figure out what happens with rookies coming up, and we’ll see where it sits later on.”
So could it happen?
“We’re gonna keep looking,” Carroll said. “And we’re not gonna stop looking and we’re going to compete. So in that sense, I leave everything open and that’s just one of them. So go ahead and do whatever you want with it (the speculation about Sherman). But that’s where it is.’’