Would a Richard Sherman Trade Make Sense for the Tennessee Titans?
By Luke Worsham
It has been confirmed that the Seattle Seahawks are looking to trade 3-time All Pro cornerback Richard Sherman, and it has been speculated that the Titans have some interest. It would, however, be in their best interest to not make a deal for Sherman. Here are three reasons why.
1. Sherman is a one-trick pony.
Richard Sherman had the best years of his career when playing under former Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn. Quinn, who is now the head coach of the NFC Champion Atlanta Falcons, bases his defensive system around a governing principle of Cover 3.
In Cover 3 defenses, two cornerbacks and one safety play a deep zone coverage while another safety plays close to the line of scrimmage. The deep safety plays a bit of a “centerfield” role, and must often decide which corner needs the most assistance. Sherman’s skill set, especially when he was in his prime, couldn’t have been more perfect for this scheme.
However, when Kris Richard took over as Seattle’s defensive coordinator, Sherman’s play began to decline a bit. Why? Because Richard ran more man coverage than did Quinn. Sherman, an elite Cover 3 corner, is pretty average in man coverage, and struggles especially against smaller wide receivers.
Additionally, Sherman is at his best when he plays on the left side of his defense. There is definitely a place in the NFL for cornerbacks who are only elite at playing deep zone coverage on one side of the field and are average at pretty much all else, but the Titans will have to decide if that place is on their team.
2. Sherman’s value wouldn’t equal that of the compensation.
If the Titans were to be interested in trading for Richard Sherman, they would have to give up one of their two first round picks. More than likely, that pick would end up being #18, as opposed to #5. A better option for the Titans would be to use one of their first round picks on a rookie cornerback instead of trading for Sherman.
When in his prime, Sherman was perhaps the best corner in the NFL. His aforementioned ball skills and blanketing coverage ability made opposing quarterbacks consistently throw in directions other than Sherman’s. However, Sherman is no longer that player. He is no longer in his prime, and his play seems to have begun a steady decline.
We also must ask ourselves why the Seahawks would be interested in trading Sherman in the first place. The Seahawks aren’t a team with a lone star looking to maximize his value to aid in a rebuilding effort, but a perennial Super Bowl contender.
So, why on God’s green earth would a Super Bowl contender be looking to trade away the four-time Pro Bowler who has been their dominant defense’s physical and vocal leader ever since he stepped on the field in 2011 if they thought he was worth the $27 million they still owe him? It just doesn’t add up.
Sure it would be nice to have a seasoned veteran like Sherman who you know is capable of playing on day one as oppose to a rookie that you have to develop. But, in addition to the fact that any of the corners projected to go in the first round would have a much higher upside than Sherman does playing in his thirties, you really don’t know what to expect from Sherman.
3. Sherman doesn’t fit the Titans’ identity.
I have always really liked Richard Sherman as both a player and a person, and have never been bothered by any of his perceived “antics” in the media and on the field. Though I’m not bothered by it, general manager Jon Robinson and crew likely would be.
Ever since they were given their respective jobs with the team, Robinson and head coach Mike Mularkey have consistently preached that they want players who are coachable and who have a team-first mentality. Sherman is a great vocal leader and brings an attitude to a defense, but I sometimes wonder whether his primary concern, at times, is the welfare of his team.
In addition to his famous Michael Crabtree rant with Erin Andrews in 2013, Sherman has publicly humiliated members of the media, used his job as a medium for political statements, and exploded on the sideline following frustrating plays. At times, even in his prime, Sherman’s antics could be seen as more trouble than he was worth. He’s no Terrell Owens, but he isn’t exactly Peyton Manning.
To conclude: Richard Sherman would undoubtedly be an instant improvement in the Titans’ weak secondary and provide a potentially game changing ball hawk. However, the money he’s owed, his age, his declining play, and his attitude just don’t make him worth a commodity as incredibly valuable as a first round pick in the NFL Draft. If Jon Robinson wants to make some trades this year as he did last, it doesn’t need to involve Sherman.