It’s not often you see premium position players dangled for trades in the NFL. When a team possesses one, they’re not likened to let him go. Guys that create and prevent touchdowns (quarterbacks, edge rushers, cornerbacks) are too valuable to let go.
And yet, as the Seattle Seahawks are reportedly shopping their star corner, Richard Sherman, it’s worth wondering what it’ll take to land one of the NFL’s best defenders. The 29-year-old is nearing the end of his prime, but would present a premium upgrade for almost every roster in football.
In trade talks, Seattle’s initial asking price for Sherman is reportedly that of a “a very good player plus a high draft pick,” per Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport further elaborated on that sentiment, noting Sherman’s price tag is i.e. “potentially a first-round pick” and “potentially a very good player on a low contract as well.” For a guy with likely only a few good years left, that’s a steep cost, no matter where your organization stands on the path to contention.
Though as ESPN’s Adam Schefter notes that “my understanding is that Richard Sherman initiated this (trade talks),” indicating he wants out of his current situation more than the respective front office, this deal could happen sooner rather than later. The chances of a trade are low at the moment, but the draft is still a little over three weeks away and there is the entire doldrums of the offseason to mull over.
In most respects, there’s plenty of time to make a mistake or addition - depending on how one looks at it - from either side and negotiate a blockbuster Sherman deal. For a guy who has a career 261 tackles, 97 passes defended, and 30 interceptions in five seasons, someone, somewhere will pounce regardless of circumstances.
Especially when Sherman’s allowed only 12 touchdowns in his career compared to other peers at the same position in similar high esteem such as the Cardinals’ Patrick Peterson.
Richard Sherman has allowed 12 career TDs. Patrick Peterson, from the same draft, has allowed 29. I wouldn't be trading Sherman anywhere— Sam Monson (@PFF_Sam) April 5, 2017
Where do the Chicago Bears and general manager Ryan Pace stand in all of this?
Note that at the moment, the guys at Bookmaker, don’t even have the Bears as one of the top ten teams in betting odds in the Sherman sweepstakes. That distinction instead belongs to the New Orleans Saints.
However, it doesn’t mean Chicago should give up a pursuit, because it’s obvious they still have a huge need at cornerback. Currently, they have 13 cornerbacks on the roster, and obviously even as that number will be cut down, none of them are much of any good. There’s no proven difference maker among the Marcus Cooper’s and Price Amukamara’s. Every avenue should be explored among the stop-gap strategy.
Considering Sherman would immediately fill a huge need and put you one step closer to a dominant defense again. If you’re Pace, you have to at least consider what you could give up for Sherman in that light, even the trigger isn’t pulled in the end. You never know where testing the waters will take you.
First, let’s ponder the positives and negatives of actually acquiring Sherman from the Bears’ perspective:
Pros of trading for Sherman
- You get a cornerback who can plays like this, this, and this. You get a guy who can shadow opposing receivers and change your entire game plan as quarterbacks fear testing him. His instincts, ballhawk ability, and leadership boost your defense that had just 11 takeaways last season. Having him as your number one cornerback moves other players such as Cooper into more comfortable, acceptable roles, having positive ripple effects across your secondary. Much like adding a quality offensive or defensive lineman to your front.
That’s not even mentioning his durability, as he’s started appeared in all 96 games of his career. All of the other stars in the “Legion of Boom” in Seattle, such as Kam Chancellor, have missed significant time, and there’s Sherman still being Mr. Reliable. The most notable occurrence of an injury for him was the 2015 playoffs where the rangy veteran tore his ulnar collateral ligament. Instead of getting surgery, he played through most of that year’s NFC Championship Game against Green Bay and through a Super Bowl XLIX loss to the Patriots.
Some have noted that guys like fellow perennial All-Pro safety, Earl Thomas, are more important to the Seahawks’ defense considering Seattle’s fall last year without him, but that significantly diminishes and overlooks Sherman’s Hall of Fame level ability. He’s no slouch by himself and shouldn’t be seen in a negative light without expressly watching his high level of play on an individual level. This certainly isn’t hyperbole: Almost every team in the NFL would be wise to take him on their roster as a huge upgrade if possible.
If you need Sherman on the field playing well, much more often than not, he won’t let you down. Ultimately, he gives you a four-time Pro Bowler and three time First-Team All-Pro with some gas left in the tank.
Sherman is one of the NFL’s two or three best cornerbacks, bar none.
Cons of trading for Sherman
Two huge reasons in tandem. Draft assets and time left as an elite player.
For one, a Sherman trade signifies the Bears are trying to win now. Considering the constructs of the current roster without a franchise quarterback, some offensive pieces missing, and the defense still being put together, it’s difficult to qualify Chicago as being anywhere close to ready to contending..
And if you’re giving up a first round pick or ready-made roster player for a guy like Sherman with maybe only two to three years at his peak left, then what’s the point? That’s a lost chance at a potential similar impact player, on a cheaper low-cost contract, while in the midst of a rebuild.
On the other side, while it can be a loose comparison in some respects, remember how great 29-year-old Darrelle Revis was on his one-year deal with New England that ended with a Super Bowl title?
Don’t forget the following years and eventual nose dive in play with the Jets as “Revis Island” morphed from stranding receivers regularly, to a prime vacation destination. It eventually led New York to release him this past March. The generational current free agent talent simply can’t keep up receivers he used to step in stride with at ease. When your legs go, they go fast.
That same career trajectory can happen and should be considered with Sherman. So, if you make a deal for him, you’re making a statement that you want to win much sooner rather than later. You’re closer to the cusp than most. I don’t think the Bears are but crazier things have happened.
Proposing a Bears trade package
- Luke Joeckel is hardly an answer at offensive tackle for the Seahawks’ rampant offensive line issues. This is a team that allowed 42 sacks last season - good for sixth most in the NFL. They’re known for taking experiments or cast-offs such as Joeckel and plugging them into their offensive front hoping they succeed while watching them eventually fail with quarterback Russell Wilson inevitably scrambling for his life.
If this Seattle team had even one more quality starter on the offensive over the current zero, by my count that they possess, they would have a much easier time of reaching their 2013-2014 Super Bowl levels. They experienced some success with a bad offensive line, one of the rare teams in NFL history to do so, and now seems like they think they can catch lightning in a bottle every year. Not for long.
- So, appeal to their basic incompetence of trench play then. Take that into account if you’re trading for Sherman, and make sure that “very good player” is an offensive lineman. When putting together a trade proposal, it’s best to remember that the other team is trying to get better to. It’s not just about what you want.
Who better on the current Bears roster that could fit that mold, than Hroniss Grasu? To some it might be a long shot in want for their trade partner, but if you’re Seattle, are you really saying no to Grasu in what he could offer? Probably not.
Grasu missed the entire 2016 season after tearing his ACL in August’s Family Fest. But before that, he was well on his way to solidifying himself as Chicago’s starting center. That’s before Cody Whitehair took the job by storm, to say the least.
Now, as the Bears may yet play around with other guys’ positions, Grasu doesn’t have a set role with the team. Is he the backup center? Is he the starter as Whitehair moves over to guard according to original plan? Can Grasu play guard?
For a team as deep and talented as the Bears are on the interior with Whitehair, Kyle Long, Josh Sitton, and good depth in the re-signed Eric Kush, Grasu doesn’t fit, even if he may yet still be a nice player in his own right.
In that regard you almost definitely should consider him a trade piece in the kind of hypothetical for Sherman. Grasu is better than anything Seattle possesses at the moment and is still 25-years-old. Seahawks general manager John Schneider understands that fact.
Trading either of Chicago’s current tackles in Charles Leno Jr. or Bobby Massie makes no sense, because the Bears don’t have much behind them. Leno Jr. and Massie are average for their positions - which yes, presents considerable upgrades for the Seahawks - but if Chicago trades either for a huge upgrade, they become much weaker in another crucial area. You only move on from major roster contributors when you’re comfortable in their replacement, after all.
There’s still upside in him, but seeing as how Grasu only has eight career starts under his belt, and an ACL tear, sprinkle the deal up with this year’s second-round pick, No. 36 overall. I don’t believe Seattle says “yes” to any draft pick outside of the top 40. That selection would have potentially been made on a high impact safety or cornerback anyway, so make it Sherman in an acquisition instead. The final offer also fits the Seahawks’ initial asking price - which is typically the highest for teams in negotiations - as you can bargain down later.
But for now, I’d be comfortable with this trade from both sides of the line.
Seahawks acquire: Hroniss Grasu, C/G, Bears’ 2017 Second-round pick
Bears acquire: Richard Sherman, CB
In the end, even if the Seahawks should say no (very likely given the list of other suitors is probably high), I think this is the best the Bears can do. There’s no other position a rebuilding Chicago squad can reasonably make worse, or even one that Seattle would or should covet.
A trade like this gives the Seahawks a significant upgrade on the interior relative to what they have right now as they can plug and play Grasu anywhere. And the Bears add a one of the best cornerbacks in football in Sherman and don’t have to worry about the position for at least of couple years. One could easily live with him asking Aaron Rodgers for a time, “Are you mad, bro?!”
Win-win in the short term in a theoretical underrated turn of events for both organizations in Seattle and Chicago, in a league where many blockbuster trades unfortunately, simply never take place.
Robert Zeglinski is the Bears beat writer for the Rock River Times and is a staff writer for Windy City Gridiron and Second City Hockey. You can follow him on Twitter @RobertZeglinski.