The Tennessee Titans have plenty of reasons to try and sign four-time Pro Bowl CB Richard Sherman and have reportedly shown interest.
The Seattle Seahawks an end to the Legion of Boom yesterday by releasing one of the founding members: Richard Sherman. Suddenly, one of the best CBs of the past decade is now free to sign with another team. Sherman is recovering from an Achilles tear and has been less dominant than usual over the past few years, but he still will be attractive to many teams looking to upgrade their cornerback group. The Tennessee Titans have a need at CB and plenty of money to spend, so they should be one of the teams giving Sherman a call. According to Sherman himself, they have already shown preliminary interest.
The Titans already have two solid corners in Adoree’ Jackson and Logan Ryan, but the Titans defense still finished 24th in defensive DVOA against the pass last year. Contributing to their struggles was their lack of a corner who could match up against big and/or physical receivers. Jackson is a promising young corner, but at 5-10, 185 he struggled against larger receivers. And Ryan is much better suited for playing the slot. The 6-3 Sherman would be a perfect complement to these two players and would round out the secondary group nicely. He would be able to match up on bigger receivers, giving the Titans defense a new weapon for their arsenal. New DC Dean Pees had a big, aggressive corner in Baltimore (Jimmy Smith), and surely will want to add a similar type of corner to his new defense.
You can argue that Sherman is “declining”, but that is a relative term. It’s true that Sherman is no longer the best CB in the league. But he is still playing at an above-average level, earning a 82.7 score from PFF in 2017. PFF also ranked him seventh in the league in terms of coverage snaps per reception, and noted that he is one of the best tackling corners in football, with zero missed tackles on 38 attempts. He may not be the Richard Sherman from three years ago, but as long as his Achilles heals properly he would still be a huge boost to the Titans secondary.
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Future Cap Flexibility
To me, this is almost more important than the on-field benefits that would come with signing him. The reason being is that there are plenty of solid cornerback options in this free agency class: Trumaine Johnson, E.J. Gaines, Kyle Fuller and plenty of other solid options. But the reason why Sherman is more attractive is because of the type of contract he will most likely sign. The aforementioned corners will all be looking for long-term, high-paying deals. Sherman will turn 30 this month and is coming off a major injury. Teams aren’t likely to offer him an excessive amount of money or years due to the inherent risks that come with age and previous injury.
But this plays out perfectly for the Titans. With big, expensive extensions for Taylor Lewan, Marcus Mariota, Kevin Byard and possibly other players likely to get done within the next two years, the Titans will be looking to maintain their long-term cap flexibility. Sherman would be a great fit, as he will probably be signing a short-term contract. If the Titans can sign him to a deal where all the guaranteed money hits within the next two seasons, they will retain their cap flexibility for when it is time to extend their younger players. The other CBs will surely require a more expensive and longer lasting financial commitment. That isn’t to say the Titans should write off those other available CBs, but future cap flexibility is surely something Jon Robinson takes into consideration.
Making a Run at the Super Bowl
There is a good reason why the Titans should splurge in free agency this year:
As I alluded to before, Marcus Mariota has two years left on his contract that are “below market salary”. I won’t go so far as to say the Titans’ window for winning a Super Bowl is closing, but, based off the money Kirk Cousins is about to make, they would be wise to be aggressive this off-season while Mariota is still relatively cheap.
Teams build through the draft, but an easy way to make a big jump from good to great is by signing quality free agents. The Philadelphia Eagles are a prime example: Their 2017 free agent signings of Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith, Patrick Robinson, and Chris Long all made a significant impact on their Super Bowl-winning run.
Signing a player like Richard Sherman could help the Titans make a similar jump. He is a competitive, experienced player whose past playoff success would be valued by a young team like the Titans. He may have had previous beef with the Titans, but players tend to move on quickly from that type of stuff (unless you are Aqib Talib and Michael Crabtree). His passion and fire are something Jon Robinson and Mike Vrabel most likely respect, and I would hope they make an effort to bring him to Nashville.