The Cleveland Browns need help at cornerback. With Joe Haden’s history of injuries, is it time for the Browns to solidify the cornerback position by trading for Richard Sherman?
In a recent episode on The Ringer’s NFL Show, former NFL front office resident Mike Lombardi stated the Seattle Seahawks would consider trading cornerback Richard Sherman for “the right deal”.
Soon after that news broke of the Seahawks, Denver radio host Benjamin Albright tweeted out that the Seahawks are not actively seeking to trade Sherman, but that they are merely willing to listen to offers.
I was told the #Seahawks are not "trying" to trade Richard Sherman, merely willing to listen to offers, as any team is on any player.
— Benjamin Allbright (@AllbrightNFL) March 17, 2017
Per Spotrac.com, Sherman has two years remaining on his current contract. He is slated to make $11.4 million in 2017 and $11 million in 2018. Any team trading for Sherman would have to absorb that contract.
Should the Browns be in the market for Sherman? There are pros and cons to any hypothetical deal.
The positive’s first. Sherman is an elite cornerback in the NFL, something the Browns have been without for the past two seasons as Joe Haden has dealt with injuries that have limited him to just 18 games over the past two seasons. Further, Sherman brings an attitude and leadership to a Browns team that needs attitude on defense.
The Browns secondary was awful last year. Part of the difficulty was the lack of leadership, due in part to the ever-changing makeup of the secondary. Injuries and ineffective play lead to a merry-go-round of defenders on the back-end of the defense. The merry-go-round precluded these defenders from jelling as a unit and maintaining stability.
Sherman could step in and provide veteran leadership to a very young secondary. He would fit the new Browns culture as he would hold veterans and rookies accountable. He would ensure that his fellow secondary members prepared and played at a high level.
Sherman would also provide a much-needed attitude adjustment to the Browns defense as he plays with heart and fire. He can sometimes get himself into trouble with his attitude, but the NFL is an entertainment industry and Sherman is entertaining!
Sherman’s presence would help this team move forward with changing the culture and rebuilding the team from the ground up.
There are reasons, however, to avoid Sherman.
The price tag for a player of Sherman’s quality will be very high, although the Browns have stockpiled draft capital to make moves to acquire players like Sherman.
But Sherman does not fit the age demographic the Browns front office is looking for. Sherman will turn 29 before the 2017 NFL season. Defensive backs rely on speed and technique to survive in the NFL, and while Sherman may show no signs of slowing down, you can bet the Browns front office knows all about the regression of defensive backs entering their 30s.
Sherman’s age prevents him from being a longterm building block as the Browns are looking to get younger. Haden is signed for the next three years for roughly $10 million per season. Add in the $6.4 million in deferred signing bonus and Haden’s contract looks to be unmovable. Like it or not, Haden is the longterm cornerback veteran presence on the Cleveland Browns.
Could the Browns absorb Sherman’s cap hit much like they did with Brock Osweiler? Yes, they could. But then the question becomes how much of their salary cap do they want to allocate to the cornerback position? The Browns are looking to build the entire team. If the goal was to win the Super Bowl in 2017, then taking on Sherman’s contract would make more sense.
There is also the question of scheme. Sherman has played in mainly a three-deep zone system, which has asked him to play mainly zone on just one side of the field. The past couple of years the Seahawks have had him flip sides of the field, but he has still played mainly zone. This is not to say he cannot play man, but to point out that he has not been asked to play predominantly man coverage.
That would be problematic as Browns defensive coordinator Gregg Williams does not play a cover three zone system. In Williams’ defense, Sherman would be asked to take on roles he has not done in his career. This does not mean he cannot take them on, but how well Sherman would perform in an unfamiliar system is an unknown.