The 2011 fifth-round pick quickly became a solid starting fullback. But with new head coach Bruce Arians implementing a fullback-averse offense this offseason, Sherman became expendable through no fault of his own. That is why Arizona traded the 24-year-old blocking back to the Kansas City Chiefs in a deal Adam Caplan reported Wednesday.
"I have not been a fullback guy -- never have been," Arians told reporters during the NFL owners meeting in March.
The reasons for Arians' thinking are strategic. Fullbacks, for all their value in blocking, simply don't threaten defenses the way players at the other skill positions do. They tend to be one-dimensional players, so when they come into the game, defenses have a better idea what to expect. Some coaches have little use for fullbacks as a result.
"If you're a defensive coordinator and I send in a fullback and take out a tight end, I'm going to get your best call for that," Arians explained. "If I've got two tight ends, you don't know if one of them is going to play the fullback or one of them is going to be split out wide. You are going to be in that down-and-distance call. You don’t have a specific call."
Sherman started 11 of the 28 games he played in Arizona and logged 448 offensive snaps, according to ESPN Stats & Information. He carried the ball once and had 13 receptions for 111 yards.
The Cardinals drafted Sherman to develop him into a lead blocker while getting quality special-teams snaps from him. With former Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt becoming the San Diego Chargers' offensive coordinator recently, Sherman will twice a season in the AFC West play against one of the men responsible for drafting him.
"Two things, besides just being a good blocker, is that he’s an athletic player, he can catch the ball and do some things from that position athletically that can help us, and he’s a very good special-teamer," Whisenhunt said of Sherman during the 2011 draft. "When you have a role where you're expecting that player to get 15 or 20 snaps a game, he's got to have another significant contribution to your team. That’s how you build the strength of your team and we feel like he was probably, if not the best, at least in the top two or three of all the college players we looked at as special-teamers, and that’s important."
Sherman should be a better fit in Kansas City, where new Chiefs coach Andy Reid runs an offense featuring two backs a higher percentage of the time. Reid's Philadelphia teams did not rank among the NFL leaders in most plays featuring two backs, but they weren't far off the league average.
Note: I'll update this item once we know what the Cardinals received in return for Sherman.