Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

07 May 2014

New Deal Makes Sherman NFL's Top-Paid CB

Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman doesn't need a spokesman or PR firm to announce his new contract. He turned to a Stanford graduate with a degree in communications who is working on his Master's: himself.

"I am blessed to announce that the Seattle Seahawks and I have reached an agreement on a contract extension," Sherman wrote on his blog today.

Per Sherman, the terms of the deal are "4 years for a total of $57.4M with $40M guaranteed." Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times notes that this is an average of $14.25 million per year, topping the $12 million Darrelle Revis will make in New England this season.

Posted by: Vincent Verhei on 07 May 2014

25 comments, Last at 06 Oct 2015, 10:57am by farihamalik


by theslothook :: Wed, 05/07/2014 - 2:38pm

This is the second player they've handed a 4 year deal to. Maybe this will become a new leaguewide trend, but throughout most of history, the big contract is usually 7 years, so why the 4 years is an interesting question to me.

Thinking on it some, the 7 year deal provided the team with the ability to back-load a bunch of money into the latter years, most of which was never paid because the player was cut or the contract itself was restructured. Maybe Sherman and Thomas knew this and demanded 4 year deals. Either way, we'll have to see how the upcoming Wilson contract plays out before we figure just what implications this deal will have for the rest of the hawk roster.

by Karl Cuba :: Wed, 05/07/2014 - 2:55pm

You can only spread the hit of a signing bonus over five years, so if they wanted to make this a contact with manageable cap hits for five years then the four years make sense. This is especially true if you decide not to bother with the nonsense years agents often like to tack on to the end of a deal.

It's a sensible approach.

I think it's a bit high for Sherman though, his average new money is about $4 million per year more than Earl Thomas' deal, who I think is the better and more important player. I suppose that's the market difference between corners and safeties.

by theslothook :: Wed, 05/07/2014 - 5:49pm

I'm not sure how accurate this is. One of the big misnomers about Seattle is that their D is driven by their secondary. I know you hate PFF numbers, but if they are any guide, the reality is that the d is populated by contributors all over the place. For instance, all three linebackers and all their d linemen rated well. Both safeties rated well and Sherman was the highest graded player on their defense.

I suspect this is a team drive by overall quality rather than an individual driven scheme - like say the steelers were with polamalu/harrison or lewis/reed and the ravens.

by tuluse :: Wed, 05/07/2014 - 7:53pm

Seattle linebackers probably have the easiest job of any group in the NFL. If they didn't rate out well, I would be seriously concerned. They play behind a very good defensive line in a scheme where most of the time it's 8 men in the box.

by theslothook :: Wed, 05/07/2014 - 7:59pm

My point is how do we know which way causality runs? Having a great d line for the early ravens didn't imply that Ray Lewis wasn't a great football player in his own right or that Luke Kuechly isn't one.

by Pen :: Wed, 05/07/2014 - 8:19pm

Causality runs as fast as Earl Thomas. That's the key to this scheme. He allows Kam to play in the box and plug gaps and the defense can still fall back into a man/zone defense that shuts down the deep pass and makes WR's pay over the middle.

There was an excellent article I read somewhere that showed how Seattle was able to defense situations with only ET deep and Kam up on the line that other defenses simply didn't have the skill to do. It had a lot of examples of plays in which, thanks to ET's ability to cover the entire field, the Seahawks were able to shut down plays that didn't even directly involve ET.

by Karl Cuba :: Wed, 05/07/2014 - 8:41pm

Saying that Earl Thomas is their most vital man does not equate to saying that the others are no good. Additionally, as others have pointed out it is often their ability to leverage against Thomas' suffocating coverage of the deep middle that allows the rest to perform an easier role, they do it well but the entire scheme would change with even an average free safety.

If there was one piece of evidence I would use to show why Thomas is more important than Sherman it would be the play of Browner, Maxwell, Thurmond and Lane. Four other cornerbacks who saw quite a bit of playing time for Seattle last year who were pretty successful. You could suggest that it was Sherman who was allowing them to roll coverage to help those guys but I didn't see much evidence of that, they send to spend most of their time in either cover 1 or cover 3.

by Jeff88 :: Wed, 05/07/2014 - 2:50pm

Someone in New England is upset

by Travis :: Wed, 05/07/2014 - 4:29pm

Revis is still technically the highest-paid corner - he signed for 2 years, $32 million, but no one expects New England to keep him at $20 million for 2015.

by jonnyblazin :: Wed, 05/07/2014 - 4:04pm

That's a lot of money for a guy who among CBs was 29th with 56 percent Adjusted Success Rate and 47th with 7.7 Adjusted Yards per Pass last year.

by tuluse :: Wed, 05/07/2014 - 5:46pm

Context matters. He was basically in man coverage with no safety help every play. Seattle also ranked 4th against #1 receivers last year by DVOA.

by jonnyblazin :: Wed, 05/07/2014 - 7:58pm

"Seattle also ranked 4th against #1 receivers last year by DVOA."

Yes but Sherman didn't shadow the #1 WR, he stayed in the same spot.

by Pen :: Wed, 05/07/2014 - 8:25pm

Exactly. Sherman shuts down whoever comes his way period, playing on the island. This allows ET to back up whatever DB gets beat - usually by the #1 - and keep him in check. Without Sherman being a shut down corner, ET can't do what he does. The defense must be taken as a whole, but it works because of the sum of its parts. Take out ET, you can still leave Sherman on an island, but taking out Sherman would impact ET.

You'd see the Hawks success vs #1 WR's go down with Sherman out even if he wasn't covering the #1.

by tuluse :: Wed, 05/07/2014 - 11:33pm

Well they're 7th against #2 receivers and #1 against other recievers. So no one was lighting him up.

by Vincent Verhei :: Wed, 05/07/2014 - 6:13pm

I added some per-snap numbers to the comments section of that thread. Sherman looks a lot better there.


by Led :: Wed, 05/07/2014 - 7:03pm

Thanks for those numbers. Sherman does look better there, but better to the tune of $14.25m per?

by Insancipitory :: Wed, 05/07/2014 - 7:18pm

I think he had 59 targets and 8 interceptions plus AT LEAST 2 more passed tipped into interceptions. 1/6th of his targets end up going the wrong way for an offense. That's nasty.

by Jimmy Oz :: Wed, 05/07/2014 - 7:48pm

Is QB DVOA for passes into coverage available, similar to QB rating for passes into coverage?

by Pen :: Wed, 05/07/2014 - 8:27pm

I believe I read somewhere that QB's had the lowest rating when passing to Sherman's man. I wouldn't be surprised to find that QB's have a pretty bad DVOA vs Sherman.

by Perfundle :: Wed, 05/07/2014 - 8:58pm

Even that doesn't really do Sherman justice considering it doesn't take into account the interceptions. Wouldn't it be more accurate just to give the average DVOA allowed by each cornerback?

by Pen :: Wed, 05/07/2014 - 10:51pm

Toxic Differential rates teams on Big Plays minus Big Plays Allowed plus turnovers minus turnovers allowed. Wouldn't it make sense to rate CB's based upon the same criteria? They are perhaps the most influential defenders on the team upon that stat? How many big plays did they give up? How many turnovers and big plays on the return did they make?

I know it sounds simplistic, but ulitmately, that's their job. As Sherman just said today, he looks forward to making more interceptions. Barely targeted, led the league. The fact he's so good at picking off the pass is why he's so rarely targeted.

Goes right to the heart of the position.

by Jeff M. :: Thu, 05/08/2014 - 12:13pm

The average on the new money is a little deceptive because this is an extension that kicks in after the current deal, rather than replacing the last year of his current deal (at $1.4m). Right now the Seahawks have Sherman locked up for 5 years at $58.8m, a little under $11.8m per year, which seems like a pretty good deal to me. If the cap keeps rising the way it's rumored to, $11m base and $13.2m cap hit in 2018 (per Spotrac) could be way, way below market value for an elite CB.

This is the same structure as Earl Thomas, which was reported as 4/$40m but didn't touch his current deal so really he's locked up for 5/$45m.

by Will Allen :: Fri, 05/09/2014 - 11:07am

I think the cap is likely to make substantial leaps in the next few years, also, so what looks expensive today will look rather less so by 2016.

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by farihamalik :: Tue, 10/06/2015 - 10:57am