RENTON — No, Richard Sherman isn’t coming to save the Seahawks’ beleaguered defense.
That became official Wednesday when the legendary Seahawks cornerback signed with Tampa Bay in the morning and took part in his first practice with the Bucs, wearing jersey No. 5 (the date of his son Rayden’s birth).
Sherman signed a one-year contract with Tampa Bay for a $1 million base salary and bonuses and incentives that can take it to $2.25 million.
“I didn’t talk with Richard (this week),” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. “But we have been in contact in a way for some time. We were always watching Richard and had the thought in mind that maybe there was a possibility down the road. I talked to him seriously about that prior to camp. But we wish him the best. I’m glad he got the chance to come back and hope for the very best for him.”
In Tampa Bay, Sherman characterized Seattle’s interest this way in describing a conversation he had with his wife, Ashley, before signing with the Bucs: “‘Seattle’s kind of stringing you along, hasn’t offered you anything.'”
Middle linebacker Bobby Wagner said candidly he thought the Seahawks were set to sign Sherman before he was charged with five misdemeanors in July, including criminal trespass in the second degree with a domestic-violence element, reckless endangerment of roadway crews, driving under the influence, resisting arrest and malicious mischief with a domestic-violence element.
Sherman has a pretrial hearing scheduled for Oct. 1 in King County District Court in Redmond.
“Until all this stuff happened, I thought he was on his way here,” Wagner said. “Then everything happened, which kind of slowed the process back down. At the end of the day, I think he made the best decision for himself.”
So what will the Seahawks do to fix a defense that ranks last in the NFL in total yards allowed (440.3 per game) and is 30th against the run (155.0) and 26th against the pass (285.3) after Sunday’s 30-17 loss at Minnesota?
If massive change in some regard is coming, no one was letting on about it Wednesday. Carroll and defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. each said cornerbacks Sidney Jones and Bless Austin are getting readier to play.
But Carroll allowed only, “They’re getting closer, you’ll see how the week goes.”
Jones in particular seems a candidate to maybe see his first action at least sharing time with Tre Flowers at right cornerback.
Norton didn’t sugarcoat the play of the cornerbacks against the Vikings.
“Well, you watched the game,” he said. “It wasn’t our best performance. I think we are continuing to grow, continuing to compete and try to continue to play better together.”
Player frustration was visible on the field during the game and afterward when cornerbacks Flowers and D.J. Reed each attributed some of what happened to the team’s defensive game plan. One implication was that the players were frustrated at a plan that emphasizes not getting beat deep at the cost of giving up a lot of shorter passes.
Asked about that during his regular Wednesday meeting with the media, Norton said: “I think it’s more losing and frustration. Anytime you lose, everyone is trying to find a reason. I think it’s a matter of, let’s win more and then you will have a lot less complaining.”
Carroll, likewise, downplayed any dissension in the ranks, saying: “I think it was just a game of frustrations. We are ready to go and move on.”
Carroll didn’t let players off the hook. When asked if he wants to see a different level of intensity Sunday, he said: “I want to see a different level of execution on gameday. I want to see that for sure.”
One particular issue Sunday was screen passes. Minnesota ran four to running back Alexander Mattison for 49 yards. The first two went for gains of 20 and 23, keying Minnesota’s first two scoring drives. As Wagner noted, Seattle held the final two to a combined 6 yards, which he said was proof Seattle figured them out as the game wore on.
Norton was blunt about the issues with those, saying: “We weren’t covering them. They were well timed. I think you have options on screens, the deep ball or the short one, and our guys didn’t react as fast as they needed to. We will be better.”
It wasn’t just the secondary that struggled.
Seattle had just one sack of Kirk Cousins and just one quarterback hit and also let Mattison run for 76 of his career-high-tying 112 yards in the second half. Seattle ranks 22nd in the NFL allowing 4.5 yards per rush, something it felt would be a strength after allowing just 3.9 last year to rank fourth.
The current situation recalls what happened a year ago, when the Seahawks were on pace to allow the most yards in NFL history through the first half of the season before turning things around. Players later cited an accountability meeting led by Norton the week before a November win against Arizona.
Wagner said he “spoke to everybody” on the defense this week and isn’t worried about the team’s morale or belief in each other.
“I feel like we’re all on the same page,” Wagner said. “I think that was the most important thing, communication is definitely the No. 1 thing. We’ve just got to get out of our way. These last two games defensively we’ve been in our own way. Whether it’s the penalties or our red execution, we need to get out of our own way. We have the talent, we have the players, we have everything we need to be a great defense. We just need to get out of our way.”