You can excuse Richard Sherman for being a little bitter about being unceremoniously dumped last week. Most of us agree with him, if only because Seattle eschewed an opportunity to get value for him (in 2016, now or later).
In an interview with freshly retired NFL star Joe Thomas on the “ThomaHawk” podcast, Sherman sounded off about his departure from Seattle — giving some very candid comments about Pete Carroll and John Schneider (quotes via Bob Condotta).
Because Sherman is a bit displeased, we have to take some of his comments with a grain of salt. But there are plenty of grains of truth, too.
Let’s sift through them …
“This is the first time anybody who has been injured as a core player has been cut. So it felt kind of disrespectful to me in a way.”
TRUTH. It’s why we never thought Carroll and Schneider would cut Sherman. Trade? Sure. But they had never cut one of their top guys off one injury. Even lesser guys like Tharold Simon got multiple chances to prove they could stay healthy and play well. Top players such as Sidney Rice and Zach Miller went through multiple injuries before they were asked to take pay cuts. Sherman had never missed a game until he was hurt last season. Carroll and Schneider broke their own unwritten code — and deserve to be called out for it.
“They were just going to give me a chance to feel out free agency. I don’t think they thought I was going to get a decent offer.’’
TRUTH. When Schneider asked Sherman to take a pay cut, the GM already knew the answer. Maybe he did hope Sherman would come back at the lower rate Seattle was offering (whatever it was). But Schneider also knew Sherman very likely wouldn’t be coming back. And Sherman surely knew that when he called Schneider to tell him the 49ers’ offer.
Carroll’s “philosophy is more built for college. You get four years, guys rotate in, rotate out. We had literally heard … every story, every kind of funny anecdote that he had. … We could recite them before he even started to say them. So I think that kind of went into it.’’
TRUTH with some SALT. Carroll is an NFL coach with a collegial style. When he was at USC, he ran a pro-style program and sent tons of players to the NFL. But he is very much a rah-rah guy. So it figures players would start to tune him out. We all know when it started, too: In the minutes immediately after XLIX. The team was never as tight after that, and Kam Chancellor, Michael Bennett and Sherman alternated being pains in the ass. Carroll put up with it because he felt this crew was good through 2018. He lost that gamble.
“It just became an issue of devaluing core players that are playing at a high level and really being curious about younger players and curious about the unknown. They say, ‘Maybe this guy is going to be the next guy’ instead of saying, ‘Hey, you have Hall of Fame talent in your secondary. How about you ride this out?’”
SALT. Carroll wanted to ride it out. That’s how Seattle got into this mess. Half his stars got injured, and that’s what devalued them. Since they were already tuning Carroll out, he decided to clean house before it was far too late (Sherman likely would have been traded if he hadn’t gotten hurt). We would have ridden Sherman and Bennett for one more year, especially knowing Seattle needed to replace Cliff Avril and Kam Chancellor and wasn’t going to get anything notable for Sherman and Bennett. But Carroll and Schneider clearly decided to blow it all up now.
“I think they’ve kind of lost their way a little bit in terms of how they see players and how they evaluate players.’’
SALT. It is true Schneider has had a pretty poor last five years overall in building the roster, but that is not what Sherman is referencing here. He’s referring to picking young players over vets. Carroll and Schneider are merely returning to their 2010-11 roots, as Sherman pointed out in his college comment above. After a 9-7 season marked by injuries to many veteran stars, they feel it is time to go young again — as they did once upon a time with Sherman’s Legion of Boom. It certainly means Schneider’s 2016 and 2017 draft picks need to step up and he needs to hit more picks this year and next than he did in 2013-15.
“There was not a locker-room problem at all. That was false. That was somebody fabricating something out of nothing.”
TRUTH. Sherman would know. The ESPN story referenced here blew up some pretty common things (players cussing each other out, etc.). Sure, there have been enough whisperings and reports to make it clear that Russell Wilson was not best buds with Marshawn Lynch and some star defenders. But who cares? That’s no different than on any team. And the franchise quarterback should always be the favorite son — because franchise quarterbacks are not easy to find. The locker room problem was vets such as Sherman and Bennett badmouthing coaches and the front office and straying from the tight bond the defense had created in 2013-15. It’s largely why they are both gone now (which has nothing to do with their social-justice causes).
“If they do great, get to the playoffs and continue to have the success, then I think (Carroll) continues to go. But if things don’t go as planned and they don’t get to the playoffs and they have a rough year, then I think that’ll weigh into his decision. The legacy begins to get tainted at that point.”
SALT. Carroll clearly has committed to one more run, which we expect to be five years or so — maybe until he is 70. The caveat, of course, is if the Hawks continue to fade and Paul Allen decides not to extend Carroll beyond this contract, which expires after 2019. Carroll knows his legacy was tainted with the XLIX loss and the ensuing fade, and he seems determined to reverse course and leave on a high note.