Last Tuesday, Schneider said the team was willing to "listen to everything" when asked about Sherman potentially being traded. It was a somewhat surprising response, given that Schneider didn't go out of his way to compliment Sherman and talk about how important the veteran cornerback is to the Seahawks' future. But Schneider has consistently prided himself on the fact he's willing to explore every opportunity to improve the team's roster.
The following day, Carroll took the team's stance a step further, saying the Seahawks had fielded calls about Sherman. Asked about Sherman's 2016 season, Carroll added, "Richard went through a lot last year. Most of it self-inflicted."
On Wednesday, Schneider joined the "Brock and Salk" show on 710 ESPN Seattle. He knew he would be asked about Sherman again and could have downplayed last week's comments. Schneider could have said his and Carroll's words were blown out of proportion. He could have clarified that they simply meant every player is available for the right offer. He could have said Sherman is an elite cornerback who is integral to the Seahawks' success.
Schneider did not do that.
"What you've seen lately in the news is real," Schneider said. "That's on both sides. It's just open communication. He knows what's going on. We know what's going on."
Schneider wasn't even asked directly about the trade buzz. The question was about the organization's relationship with Sherman in the past six or seven months. After talking about the openess that the Seahawks try to have with their players, Schneider delivered the same message as last week: Sherman is available.
There are different theories floating around about the Seahawks' strategy here. It's highly unusual for an NFL general manager to speak so openly about trading a star player. Did Schneider wake up one morning and decide he needed to be more transparent to the public? Unlikely.
Is the team trying to send a message to Sherman? The cornerback had two sideline blowups directed at coaches last year. Is their aim to let him know he's not untouchable and that a repeat of 2016 is unacceptable?
Perhaps. But that would go against Carroll's general philosophy of making players feel valued and allowing them to show their personalities. This strategy would represent a huge gamble. To expect Sherman to change his behavior out of fear that he might be traded seems far-fetched. Sherman is confident and stubborn. He's also a great player who has never missed a game and has intercepted 30 passes in his career -- 10 more than any other cornerback since he entered the league.
Challenging him publicly with trade threats seems unlikely to get him in the right frame of mind heading into a season that carries Super Bowl expectations. And at this point, it's worth considering whether Sherman might welcome a trade.
“My understanding was that Richard Sherman initiated this,” ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter said on SportsCenter. “He was looking to get out of Seattle. He was open to that idea initially. They’re accommodating him by listening to trade offers, and they’ll see what happens.”
If the Seahawks are not trying to send a message, that leaves just one remaining option: They're really trying to trade him. Given the way the last week has played out, this seems like the most logical explanation. Sherman just turned 29. The organization clearly didn't like how he acted last season. And perhaps they see this as an opportunity to get value. Sherman has two years remaining on his deal at $11.431 million and $11 million.
The Seahawks would save $22.431 million in cash by trading him and would take on $4.4 million in dead money. The cap savings this year would be $8.766 million, and Seattle would free up $11 million in 2018.
Of course, trading Sherman would also open up a big hole on the roster. DeShawn Shead is coming off a serious knee injury and is unlikely to be ready for the start of the season. Jeremy Lane is better suited for a nickel role and is coming off a down season. The draft is loaded with cornerbacks, but are the Seahawks really willing to go with rookies at key spots during a season in which they're set up to contend for the Super Bowl?
As for the asking price, the best comp might be the Darrelle Revis trade to theTampa Bay Buccaneers in 2013, although Revis was only 27 when that deal was made. The New York Jets netted a first-round and a fourth-round pick.
The Seahawks could be interested in players instead of or along with picks. Offensive line (tackle, specifically) is an obvious need. They're always looking for pass rush. And Seattle poked around the wide receiver market in free agency.
But at this point, the Seahawks don't appear to be posturing. The draft is in three weeks, and they are making it clear to the other 31 teams that there is a window to call and make offers for Sherman.
If a deal doesn't get done by the end of this month, the Seahawks could find themselves in a messy situation with their star cornerback this summer.