Sherman, who makes his first appearance back in Seattle Sunday with the 49ers, said he remains surprised the Seahawks cut him while he was recovering from an Achilles tendon injury.
Yeah, Richard Sherman is still mad about the way his tenure with the Seahawks ended. So is his former college and NFL teammate and longtime friend Doug Baldwin, who didn’t bother with niceties when asked about the end of Sherman’s tenure Thursday.
“I thought it was really (expletive), to be honest with you, how it ended,’’ Baldwin said from the podium at the VMAC during his official weekly meeting with the media. “I really would have liked for him to stay here and had an opportunity to finish his career with this organization. But that’s part of the business. It doesn’t work out that way.”
At almost the same time Baldwin made that comment, Sherman said during his own regular weekly meeting with the media in the Bay Area that he remains surprised the Seahawks cut him last March. In some of the most pointed, on-the-record barbs Sherman has ever made toward Russell Wilson in public, he also took some direct shots at his former quarterback. This seemed to confirm some of the whispers that have emerged in recent years about tension between the two (or, at least Sherman toward Wilson).
Specifically, Sherman said he has no real relationship with Wilson other than that they were teammates with Seattle during a special time for the franchise. Sherman also said he stands by his critique that Seattle hasn’t drafted well in recent years and said that despite the Seahawks being in the playoff hunt that they are a “middle of the road” team.
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“You just expect that once you’ve done so much for a franchise that they wouldn’t cut you when you’re hurt,’’ Sherman said, adding that the Seahawks had rarely done that with injured players while they were still recovering. “It’s kind of a respect thing more than anything.”
The topic of Sherman’s Seattle career and how it ended has been a popular one this week as Sherman makes his first appearance at CenturyLink Field as an opponent on Sunday with the 49ers.
Sherman was released while still rehabbing a torn Achilles tendon injury against Arizona that ended his 2017 season. The move saved Seattle $11 million on his 2018 contract and Sherman quickly signed an incentive-laden three-year deal with the 49ers worth up to $27 million. Sherman, who negotiated his own deal, said he offered the Seahawks a chance to match that contract but they didn’t want to. The Seahawks have not officially confirmed that but coach Pete Carroll has said Seattle was interested in keeping Sherman at a lower-salary.
Seattle cut Sherman five days before the beginning of the free agency signing period, which the Seahawks did in part to allow Sherman more options in finding a new team before players who were becoming unrestricted free agents could be signed.
Baldwin said only that he thinks there was a way for Sherman to still be a Seahawk and wishes it could have worked out.
“I don’t know the business aspect of it,’’ he said. “Do I think he could be here? Yes, I do think he could be here. Again, I’m not the GM (general manager). I’m not the head coach. I’m not the owner. So that’s above my pay grade.”
Asked if it was more the way it happened, or that it happened to Sherman that bothered him, Baldwin said: “Is there any good way? No, there is no good way to have your teammates who you’re close with, have built an organization with, to have them leave in any fashion is not fun.”
Baldwin said the release of Sherman coupled with the trade before the 2017 season of close friend Jermaine Kearse were hard hits on him
“On me? Absolutely,’’ Baldwin said. “Those are two of my closest friends on the team. Were, because they’re no longer on the team. I still stay in consistent contact with Sherm … obviously I’m extremely close to them. Not having those guys on the team, we spend the majority our time — we’re here 12 hours out of the day — you don’t see those guys, the consistent rocks in my life for so long, it definitely impacts you in an emotional, mental way.”
Baldwin, who played with Sherman at Stanford and then joined the Seahawks as an undrafted free agent in 2011, the same year Seattle drafted Sherman in the fifth round, said he talks to Sherman regularly. He said he thinks the way Sherman’s Seattle career ended likely still colors how Sherman views all that happened during his time with the Seahawks.
“From a humanistic standpoint it’s very difficult to separate those emotions,’’ Baldwin said. “He gave so much blood, sweat and tears while he was here. I think him coming back there will be some emotions there coming and playing in this stadium, albeit in a different jersey. I think that will definitely have some emotional baggage with him.”
Sherman, who has had some strong words about the Seattle organization since his release, also took what could be considered as at least veiled shots at Wilson, if not outright barbs.
Asked about his relationship with Wilson, Sherman said: “I don’t really have a relationship with Russell. We were teammates in a special time for the franchise.”
And told that he’s seen through the years what Wilson is capable of, Sherman said: “Yeah, I’ve also seen him throw five picks in a game, so you see what he’s capable of on both sides of it. You understand that he can be defended.”
That’s a reference to a 2016 game at Green Bay when Wilson threw a career-high five interceptions. That game was a focal point in an SI.com story published earlier this year detailing that Sherman wanted to confront Wilson about his poor play in that game.
Wilson also held his weekly press conference Thursday before Baldwin and took his usual “high road” in discussing Sherman, saying he has “tons of respect” for him and how he plays the game.
“He’s going to be a Hall of Fame corner,’’ Wilson said. “He’s a guy that meant so much to our football team when he was here and just how many plays he made. The thing that I think I respect about Sherman more than anything else is how he brings it every day at practice, even when he’s hurt. He always practiced. He always was out there and he didn’t have to be, All-Pro player, guy who has done so many different things. And he always was able to do that, and not just that but he was always able to teach the younger guys, as well. So to be able to go up against him at practice every day just helped my career and helped build my understanding of the game and confidence.’’
Sherman also said he wasn’t surprised by Seattle’s 6-5 record and said he stands by earlier comments that he doesn’t think the team has drafted as well in recent seasons which he said has led to the declining records from the Super Bowl years of 2013 and 2014.
“If you just look at the draft classes we had early on and the draft classes they’ve had in the last three, four, five years, the truth is the truth,’’ Sherman said. “I don’t have to make stuff up.”
As for the current Seahawks, Sherman said he’s not surprised by their record: “No really. They’re 6-5. It’s not like they’re 8-1 or 12-1. If they were that, I’d be very surprised. But they’re kind of middle of the road. They’re fighting in every game. They’ve won some close ones, lost some close ones. I’d expect that.”
Sherman’s comments may only further influence some fans who attend Sunday’s game to greet him less than warmly.
But Sherman said he doesn’t care.
“I don’t even think about it, honestly,’’ he said. “It’s a game, it’s a football game. You go out there, you’re at an away stadium and you get the reception you get. You go out there to win a football game.”