Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

11 Mar 2018

UPDATE: Richard Sherman Signs With 49ers

The NFL's worst-kept secret became official news on Friday: the Seattle Seahawks have released four-time All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman.

Sherman, who turns 30 at the end of this month, started every game for Seattle from Week 1 in 2012 to Week 10 of last season, when he tore his Achilles tendon against Arizona. He was due $11 million in salary in 2018, and the Seahawks asked him to take a pay cut. He refused, believing he could get a better offer on the open market, and the Seahawks agreed to release him. Both player and team have left the door open to a return, but in all likelihood one of the 31 other teams in the league will offer more money than the Seahawks would be willing to pay.

"[They] want me to understand that the door's open for me to return," Sherman said in an interview with Gee Scott of KIRO-FM radio in Seattle. "They're just trying to do what they need to do to clear up space and give me and them the best chance at free agency, and I've got to appreciate and respect that."

UPDATE: Just adding that Sherman was having one of his better seasons in 2017 before he got hurt. According to Sports Info Solutions, he finished 16th among qualifying cornerbacks with 6.0 yards allowed per pass, and 17th with a 61 percent success rate (subscription required).

UPDATE: Well that didn't take long. Barely 24 hours after being released by Seattle, Sherman has signed with the division rival San Francisco 49ers. Initial reports say it is a three-year, $39 million deal, with a $5 million bonus. We'll have to see what portion of that contract is actually guaranteed, but on the surface it appears he's going to get a substantial raise out of this whole turn of events.

Posted by: Vincent Verhei on 11 Mar 2018

25 comments, Last at 13 Mar 2018, 8:30pm by Vincent Verhei


by Raiderjoe :: Fri, 03/09/2018 - 4:42pm

future Raider. Sherman will help get raiders back to super bwol where they will rpobaly beat the rams or Eagas or some iother team

by Raiderfan :: Fri, 03/09/2018 - 4:56pm

We could use him!

by theslothook :: Fri, 03/09/2018 - 5:02pm

Maybe the Rams should just sign him. They are the cb destination it seems.

Seriously, where does this leave the Seahawks?

Throwing away draft picks has left an unclear path for the team moving forward. They seem like the third best team in the NFC at this point.

by commissionerleaf :: Fri, 03/09/2018 - 6:21pm


The third best team in the NFC West.

And maybe fourth if the 49ers are as good this coming year as their fans think they will be.

by Vincent Verhei :: Fri, 03/09/2018 - 7:44pm

Wait. LA and SF I get, but you're ranking them behind Arizona, a team that doesn't have a quarterback?

by MC2 :: Sat, 03/10/2018 - 8:56am

Well, Arizona has almost everything but a QB (though they could use some help on the O-line and some youth in the receiving corps).

Meanwhile, San Francisco has almost nothing but a QB.

They're like Jack Sprat and his wife. Put Jimmy G on the Cardinals, with David Johnson and their perennial Top 10 defense, and the Rams might have something to worry about. But as it is now, barring major regression from Goff, it looks like LA in a cakewalk.

by bravehoptoad :: Sat, 03/10/2018 - 11:20am

Meanwhile, San Francisco has almost nothing but a QB.

Wait. Just wait. SF does have a really good fullback.

by theslothook :: Sat, 03/10/2018 - 4:25pm

SF has more than a full back. Buckner looks terrific as does Rueben Foster. They have some pieces to build with.

by The Ninjalectual :: Sun, 03/11/2018 - 7:43am

Depending on how far along their o-line is, they could have [insert 6th round RB good for 1,600 yards and 12 tds] as soon as this year.

by Pen :: Sat, 03/10/2018 - 4:29am

That niner team was crap without their new QB. And Wilson is a better QB and has more talent around him. I wouldn't put the Niners ahead of the Hawks just yet. Seattle would have been playoff bound if not for Blair Walsh. Flawed, but playoff bound.

by Pen :: Sat, 03/10/2018 - 4:31am

Oh, and Sherman was ranked 2nd in completion % and 3rd in passer rating last year. With two bum Achilles.

by theslothook :: Sat, 03/10/2018 - 10:02pm

Apparently, Sherman signed with the 49ers. Good pickup and only 5 million in bonus...meaning that's all he's guaranteed?

by Will Allen :: Sun, 03/11/2018 - 8:52am

My guess is that at some point during the season, a lot more becomes guaranteed. In other words, once he proves ready to play again, it becomes a fairly typical contract.

by justanothersteve :: Mon, 03/12/2018 - 9:55am
by Raiderjoe :: Mon, 03/12/2018 - 10:38am

R. Sherman odl and coming off injury that may sap him ofg quick movemtns espeically during change of direction such as when backpedaling and then receiver makes quick cut. Guess this is decvent move for 49ers but do not expect greatness from Sherman anymore

by Will Allen :: Mon, 03/12/2018 - 11:11am

You're the best, R.J!

by jimbohead :: Mon, 03/12/2018 - 1:46pm

So it looks like the contract is approximately:
21m/3 years base; 2m guaranteed
6m in game-day roster bonuses
3m bonus for playing 90% of defensive snaps (1m/yr)
3m bonus for pro bowls (1m/yr)
6m bonus for all-pro nods (2m/yr)

You can evaluate yourself the likelihood of each of these bonuses. It looks like approximately 9-10m/yr for an older cornerback, with the capacity to cut for little penalty each year. I like this contract, and I don't feel they overpaid.

by bravehoptoad :: Mon, 03/12/2018 - 2:30pm

Sherman negotiated his own contract. Naturally, agents are coming out of the woodwork to say he got shafted, because they don't want player self-representation to become a trend, and naturally the 49ers are bending over backwards to say how well-prepared and smart the guy was about getting what he wanted, because they want the guy to trust them going forward.

All this makes it hard to tell who did well. It is interesting that the Lions, Seahawks, and Raiders all walked away when Sherman told them the details. The Lions and Seahawks specifically mentioned how the incentives were too rich, and the Raiders simply told him that they couldn't fit him under the cap at those kind of numbers. That's some evidence Sherman wasn't totally screwed, because no one else was giving him a similar deal.

I've noticed the 49ers will pay a higher dollar value than most teams for protection against future uncertainty. For instance, when Kaepernick signed his big deal with the team, it was lauded as a team-friendly deal, but not because it was cheap. It was actually top-dollar at the time. What made it team friendly was that they could basically cut him after any year without much consequence.

They seem to have done that here. If Sherman pays well, they're paying a premium price, $11m-$13m per year, and if he doesn't, it won't cost them that much and they can walk away without regret.

I mean, this strategy of paying higher dollars for maximum flexibility hasn't worked out for them lately, but with a terrible personnel guy (Baalke), nothing would have.

by rpwong :: Mon, 03/12/2018 - 3:36pm

I agree that Sherman probably did just fine given that other teams wouldn't match, and I like that he wants to connect his future salary to his performance.

Also, he saved himself whatever the agent's commission would have been. It's only a maximum of 3% in the NFL (I think), but that's significant when you're talking about millions of dollars.

by jimbohead :: Mon, 03/12/2018 - 3:37pm

"I mean, this strategy of paying higher dollars for maximum flexibility hasn't worked out for them lately, but with a terrible personnel guy (Baalke), nothing would have."

Given the cap space and recent level of (non-)sucess, I'd say the contract strategy has been spot on while the acquisition strategy has been poor. It's essentially a max-min contract perspective: if the acquisition strategy is bad, the team is in good shape to move on, as they were able to painlessly from Kaep, T Smith, and others. If the team hit on all those guys, then the strategy probably looks worse, because the team needs to get broken up for cap reasons. But at that point you've at least had some success, so... yay?

by Ivarsson.se :: Mon, 03/12/2018 - 4:37pm

I've always wondered what kinds of Pro Bowl selections count for these escalators. Do only the original selections counts, or does the 4th-alternate WR (who gets his ticket when all the "injuries" suddenly manifest) also get a Pro Bowl-berth contract-wise?

I mean, some years half the starting QBs in a conference earns some kind of Pro Bowl selection.

by Vincent Verhei :: Mon, 03/12/2018 - 6:50pm

This exact point was discussed in the SI piece. In this case it means making the initial Pro Bowl rosters.

by Ivarsson.se :: Tue, 03/13/2018 - 4:06am

Thanks, you happen to have a link to the piece?

I'm either half-blind (probable) or there's no SI piece referenced in here...

by Vincent Verhei :: Tue, 03/13/2018 - 8:30pm

Thanks. It's linked in the last update, but that's not clear in how I wrote the update or my reply.