While NFL’s free agency and 2021 draft are over, that doesn’t mean that each of the 32 teams’ current rosters will be their final rosters when the regular season, or even training camp, kicks off later this summer. There are still a handful of veteran players and undrafted free agents who could still be signed to depth roles and other potential contributing roles.
One of the top veterans left on the market right now is cornerback Richard Sherman. The future Hall of Fame corner will be 33 years old this season, but he doesn’t seem to have any plans to hang up his cleats just yet; Sherman said in February he plans on playing for two more seasons.
Sherman is a three-time first-team All-Pro and a five-time Pro Bowl player. After his most notable stint as leader of the Legion of Boom in Seattle, he’s been in San Francisco with the 49ers for the past three seasons. Sherman lost most of the 2020 season due to a calf strain, but the year prior he earned a coverage grade of 92.6 from Pro Football Focus, which was the highest season grade of his career.
If healthy, Sherman has plenty left in the tank to help a team wherever it is in its championship quest; and this last part might also go a long way into where Sherman could land. With that in mind, here are five spots we could see Sherman suiting up for the 2021 season.
New York Jets
The New York Jets aren’t close enough on their championship journey to give Sherman a successful pitch if it’s one more Super Bowl that matters most to him. However, if Sherman is more open to finding a destination that isn’t an immediate contender, reuniting with the man who coached him in San Francisco the past three seasons, Robert Saleh, could be a strong option for him.
This would also require Sherman, who has always been a West Coast guy—born in Compton, California, went to college at Stanford, and has only played for teams on the West Coast—to head very far east. His big personality would be great in The Big Apple, so I wouldn’t be too worried about that if he’s up for it.
If playing time is most important to Sherman, he’ll likely get plenty of it in Dallas. After failing to select a cornerback in the first round of the 2021 draft, the Cowboys opted to take a chance with Kelvin Joseph in Round 2. Joseph has a high talent ceiling, but his inexperience will likely lead to inconsistency early on in his career; that's not what Dallas wants each and every week. Instead, Sherman could be the veteran outside starter for a defensive coordinator who helped build the Legion of Boom in Seattle, Dan Quinn.
San Francisco 49ers
Of course, there is certainly a chance Sherman could return to the 49ers. Perhaps they would finally be able to get the Jason Verrett-Sherman cornerback combination they were hoping for last year, but for a full season in 2021. Saleh is gone as defensive coordinator, but new defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans was on Saleh’s staff and likely won’t be changing much in terms of scheme and deployment.
However, following head coach Kyle Shanahan’s comments this offseason, the chance of him returning didn't seem likely; but he didn’t close the door completely.
“We love Sherm. He’s a friend. I’ve got as much respect for him as anyone I’ve ever coached,” Shanahan said, via the Sacramento Bee. “Sherm’s in a good situation to where Sherm’s a businessman. He’s going to find out the best opportunity for him. I know teams are going to want him. But when you’re in a situation like him at his age, which these guys do, and you have the credentials like he does, you sit back and you watch and you find the best opportunity for yourself. I know Sherm’s probably going to want to go to a contender just knowing him and how competitive he is. He’ll sit back and be smart and make the right decision for himself. But, when you’ve got a guy that you trust and care about and you also know how competitive he is, we will never rule him out.”
New Orleans Saints
If Sherman wants to take a swing at a team that is always in the playoff conversation, he could take his talents to New Orleans. The Saints moved on from Janoris Jenkins this offseason to save some salary-cap space, and though they did draft Paulson Adebo; but I’m sure they’d rather not have a rookie start for them if they can help it.
Who knows how much of a contender the Saints are without quarterback Drew Brees, and who knows if they even have any money left to sign Sherman. But, given how persuasive the Saints’ regime can be, I can’t count them out.
Could Sherman reunite with Seattle? Could this really be in the cards? I do think it’s possible.
According to The Sacramento Bee's Chris Biderman, Sherman has had conversations about returning to the Seahawks. With the draft over he’ll likely continue those conversations with more concrete numbers in a contract or promises of playing time and a beautiful homecoming to potentially ride off into the sunset.
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