“I think he’d admit that he had a rough year. So he’s looking for maybe a new spark and he’s either going to find that here in Seattle or he would find it somewhere else, but odds are he’s going to find it here.”
— John Schneider on Richard Sherman.
That’s the key quote from Schneider’s interview with 710 ESPN on Thursday night.
Schneider also talked about mutual respect, constant communication and “a great relationship” between the Seahawks’ chiefs and the All-Pro cornerback. But the bottom line is in those words: “He had a rough year” and is “looking for maybe a new spark.”
Of course, Schneider is sugarcoating it. Sherman would not admit he had a “rough year.” He has had that chance and has declined.
Schneider and Pete Carroll — and anyone who watched Sherman’s rants in 2016 — are the ones talking about Sherman’s “rough year.” The Hawk bosses have subtly made it clear they didn’t like his behavior — nor should they have — and Sherman obviously didn’t like that they told him so. Thus the search for a “new spark.”
That’s Schneider’s way of saying “clean slate.” And, as Schneider and Carroll said, it is a question of whether Sherman can create a clean slate with his original team (and the coach who made him what he is).
As Carroll said at the NFL owners meetings, “I’m anxious to see him handle everything and do really well and represent himself and his teammates in great fashion. … He’s a fantastic battler. The only thing that happened is that he didn’t come back, he didn’t re-set as he has. He always found his way to reset (in the past) and he kind of stayed on the edge throughout the (2016) season, which was very challenging for him. … So I’m hoping that things balance out for him.”
Sherman has publicly said — both in his words and via his brother — that he does not want to leave Seattle. But he clearly is privy to the trade chatter and apparently willing to leave. He is even sitting out offseason workouts until after the draft — in case he does get traded. (He reportedly will show up Monday, but no word on whether he will stick around.) That all makes it sound like he is not willing to promise Carroll he will “represent himself and his teammates in great fashion.”
Sherman has lost face in Seattle, and the only way for him to regain it — considering his complete lack of humility or contrition — is for Carroll and Schneider to do what they have been doing: Placate him publicly.
Everyone knows Carroll’s No. 1 rule is “Protect the team.” Sherman didn’t in 2016 and might no longer be willing to. But, at the constant risk of looking like total pushovers, Carroll and Schneider always do.
Just look at all the ways they are doing it right now: They are protecting both the player and the team — speaking positively of Sherman, acknowledging a willingness to let him go and making it clear the price remains high and they doubt anyone will meet it.
“Right now, I don’t think the odds are very good,” Schneider said Thursday, “but if somebody comes cruising along and something happens and we do something, it happens.”
Schneider reportedly is waiting for a team to offer him a first-rounder and a third or fourth — which is the correct price for a marquee player such as Sherman. It’s still very possible a team will make that offer in the days leading up to the draft. The Hawks even should be willing to take two second-round picks for Sherman — there’s better value in that round anyway, especially the way the Hawks draft.
Let’s also clear up something else: Sherman does not control where he goes. All he can control is whether he stays there for more than two years. If the Seahawks get to the point where they just want to dump him for a second-round pick or something, they could send him to Siberia if they wanted — and he could do nothing about it.
That said, the Hawks obviously want to send him to the highest bidder. And any team acquiring him will want to extend his deal — now or later — so they will need his cooperation toward that end. That’s the genesis of reports claiming he has leverage in trade talks. His approval is helpful, but certainly not necessary.
A deal might not happen until training camp or the preseason, after teams realize what they do and don’t have at cornerback. And the Hawks could just wait until next year.
Carroll, Schneider and Sherman all have said they don’t think a trade will materialize, and they all seem prepared to carry on for another year.
As Schneider said, “He’s looking for maybe a new spark and he’s either going to find that here in Seattle or he would find it somewhere else, but odds are he’s going to find it here.”