Richard Sherman trade buzz: Seahawks' asking price, potential suitors

Clark says Sherman did more for the Seahawks this year (1:36)

Ryan Clark joins SC6 and discusses Richard Sherman's value to Seattle during the 2016-2017 season and a possible scenario of Sherman joining the Patriots for the right price. (1:36)

After a divisional-round loss to the Carolina Panthers in January 2016, cornerback Richard Sherman was asked if the Seattle Seahawks were still a team on the rise.

"A hundred percent. Because we're still young," Sherman said without hesitating.

"We've got a young core. I think people have been astounded by what we've been able to do in our young careers, but we're far from done. Guys are just entering their prime. And we're going to be special for a long time."

A lot has changed since Sherman's declaration 15 months ago. In the past two weeks, on three separate occasions, Seahawks general manager John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll have made it clear publicly that Sherman is available via trade.

With three weeks remaining before the draft, Sherman's future has become a major storyline league-wide. How did the Seahawks get to this point with Sherman? Which teams could be interested? What would it take? And should Seattle deal him?

Those are some of the questions addressed below.

Why are the Seahawks open to trading Sherman?

It's probably a combination of factors, but at the top of the list is that Sherman's sideline blowups last year clearly didn't sit well with Carroll. In Week 6, Sherman got into it with defensive coordinator Kris Richard after the Seahawks blew a coverage, and teammates had to rally around Sherman to calm him down.

In Week 15, Sherman questioned a decision to pass from the Los Angeles Rams' 1-yard line and went after Carroll and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell. Afterward, Sherman justified his actions by referencing Russell Wilson's game-ending interception in Super Bowl XLIX.

"I was letting [Carroll] know. We've already seen how that goes," Sherman said at the time.

Carroll indicated later that Sherman knew he was wrong and apologized. When Sherman addressed the media, he said he had no regrets.

Asked if he'd be OK with an offensive player questioning a defensive play-call, Sherman said, "If we had done something like a zero blitz in the Super Bowl and got bombed for a touchdown to lose the game, then I'm sure [it would] be understandable there, the reason."

Sherman has never missed a game in his NFL career and is a four-time Pro Bowler. He has been a key cog on defense during the Seahawks' recent run of success. But at this point, the relationship between him and the organization is clearly strained.

"Richard went through a lot last year," Carroll said last week. "Most of it self-inflicted."

There have been other theories floated that relate to cap space and Sherman's age. Those might be a factor, but they're unlikely to be the driving force for a trade. The Seahawks have nine of 11 defensive starters under contract for the next two years and are well-positioned for another Super Bowl run.

They are projected to have $45 million in cap space next offseason and have financial flexibility beyond that number if they want to move other players on the roster.

It's also worth considering that Sherman would welcome a trade. ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter alluded to that on Friday, saying on SportsCenter, "It has been my understanding all along that Richard Sherman was the one who initiated this. He was the one that wanted to be traded initially. The Seahawks were obliging him and his request."

What is a reasonable asking price?

Former NFL executive and current ESPN analyst Joe Banner pointed to the Darrelle Revis trade in 2013 as a reasonable comparison. Revis was 27 at the time and netted the New York Jets a first-round pick in 2013 and a fourth-round pick in 2014 from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

"I think the most they could reasonably expect to get is a one and maybe something else thrown in that's late," Banner said.

At 29, Sherman is still a premier cornerback. His contract (two years remaining at $11.431 million and $11 million) is reasonable when compared to his peers.

Even if a team was willing to match the Revis asking price, Banner said he didn't think the move made sense from the Seahawks' perspective.

"People will be wondering what's gone so wrong that a team on the verge of having a real chance of going back to the Super Bowl is willing to trade a star player," he said.

"First-round draft picks, 40 percent of them don't even become starters. What are you getting back? A little better than a 50/50 chance of even drafting a starter? In the meantime, you're losing a top-tier player at an important position."

The Seahawks could also be interested in players who are already in the league. They have a need on the offensive line (specifically at tackle), are always looking for additional pass-rush and poked around the wide receiver market in free agency.

As for timing, Banner said it'd be best for the Seahawks to get a deal done before the draft.

"No reason for it to not happen now," he said. "If they get through the draft without it happening, they're in trouble as far as moving him. It's not impossible because some team could be hoping to get a corner in the draft, and then they don't get him and maybe they're interested now. Maybe it's a 2018 pick instead of a 2017 pick. But if you're the Seahawks, you really hope to not get yourself in that position. It's simple supply and demand. The more potential demand, the better chance you're getting a significant offer."

Which teams might be interested?

Here's a roundup of potential interest from other teams, per ESPN's NFL Nation reporters.

New Orleans Saints: The Saints have to be considered among Sherman's potential suitors since they have made it clear that upgrading the cornerback position is among their top priorities. They visited with Patriots restricted free agent Malcolm Butler and still might wind up trying to work out a trade for him once Butler signs his tender. And last year, the Saints made a push to sign Josh Norman at $15 million per year before finishing runner-up to the Washington Redskins. It's unclear how the Saints feel about Sherman specifically. Perhaps they prefer a younger model in Butler. But it's an idea they have probably considered, at the very least. -- Mike Triplett

Green Bay Packers: A defense that ranked 31st against the pass last season would be foolish not to consider a cornerback like Sherman. The Packers signed Davon House in free agency, but that's hardly enough to say their coverage unit will be much improved. GM Ted Thompson has been a little more aggressive this offseason. This would take it to another level. -- Rob Demovsky

Tennessee Titans: The Titans' secondary was really bad last season, and even after adding Logan Ryan and Johnathan Cyprien, they need help. Corner is still the team's main weak spot. Do the Titans want a big personality at a big price, or will they patiently look to grow their own through the draft? They have the fifth and 18th picks, but no second-rounder (more here). -- Paul Kuharsky

New England Patriots: My sense on all the talk regarding Sherman and a possible fit with the Patriots is that Bill Belichick and Co. did their due diligence on Sherman leading up to free agency, when they knew they'd be active in the cornerback market. So if the Patriots and Seahawks had a conversation on the topic, it would make sense. But that, if anything, would have been part of the information-gathering process as they explored all cornerback opportunities before signing free agent Stephon Gilmore to a five-year, $65 million deal. The Patriots aren't expected topursue Sherman. -- Mike Reiss

Oakland Raiders: Should the Raiders be interested? Absolutely. But with a contract that will pay him $22.43 million over the next two seasons? Probably not, especially with their desire to re-up QB Derek Carr, DE/OLB Khalil Mack and RG Gabe Jackson this offseason. The Raiders, who have $27.6 million in cap space for 2017, doled out a lot of cash to cornerbacks Sean Smith and David Amerson last offseason, and they still had the No. 24-ranked passing defense. They let former first-rounder DJ Hayden leave in free agency. So yeah, the Raiders have a need at cornerback, so to speak. -- Paul Gutierrez

Buffalo Bills: The Bills theoretically could have interest in Sherman, given that they lost Gilmore in free agency and lack depth at the position. However, the coaching staff has indicated to incumbent No. 2 Ronald Darby and 2016 sixth-round pick Kevon Seymour that they view them as starters, so it would take something unforeseen to shake that up. The Bills have limited draft capital (a league-low six picks), and I would say it's much more likely they invest in a deep rookie cornerback class than use pick(s) to acquire Sherman. -- Mike Rodak

Detroit Lions: Would the Lions be interested? Probably. Can they afford him? Probably not -- at least not with $22.43 million left in cap space. But he’d fit in well in a secondary with Darius Slay and Glover Quin. That said, the combination of cap space combined with Seattle’s potential asking price might end up being more expensive than the Lions are willing to go. -- Michael Rothstein

Philadelphia Eagles: While it's an interesting pairing to think about, the Eagles should solve their cornerback issue by investing in this quality draft class rather than chasing after an expensive player who could be on the back end of his prime (more here). -- Tim McManus

Indianapolis Colts: GM Chris Ballard has put an emphasis on getting the roster younger. Sherman is 29, which isn't necessarily old, but he doesn't fit what Ballard is trying to get accomplished. As tempting as it looks for immediate results, the Colts are better off using the draft to address their cornerback needs (more here). -- Mike Wells

Jacksonville Jaguars: A chance? There's always a chance. A reason? Not really. Jalen Ramsey is one starting outside corner and the team just signed A.J. Bouye to a five-year contract worth $67.5 million with $26 million guaranteed to start on the other side (more here). -- Michael DiRocco

New York Jets: Yes, the Jets need another cornerback, but a pursuit of Sherman would contradict everything they've done this offseason. They're in a younger-and-cheaper mode, so Sherman, 29, makes no sense. He's a win-now player, and the Jets most certainly aren't a win-now team (more here). -- Rich Cimini

Should the Seahawks trade Sherman?

The idea that Seattle is just listening as it would with other players doesn't hold up. ESPN's Jeremy Fowler has reported that the Seahawks have, indeed, initiated calls with other teams. This is not about sending a message to Sherman. Seattle is legitimately trying to find a trade partner.

"I interpret their action, and I'm sure the other 31 teams do too, that they're ready, willing and able to move him," Banner said. "They're acting like they really, really want to get rid of him."

The Seahawks should pull the trigger on a deal only after exhausting every effort to make the relationship work. Sherman is an elite corner, and even though this draft is loaded with defensive backs, relying on a rookie would be a huge gamble.

The notion that Sherman isn't that important to the Seahawks' scheme is silly. Last year, when working on a story about Carroll's defensive principles, I asked him why he is more comfortable playing with a single high safety than his mentor Monte Kiffin.

"It's because of the corner play," Carroll said. "Monte wasn't as big a corner guy as I am. So I always, at [USC], wanted to be Corner U. Because we had a way that we believed in teaching corners that could really play on the line of scrimmage and play really aggressively. We wanted to take advantage of that.

"So when you have that, then you can do other things with your front, and we've been able to stay in a heavy, loaded-up front mode for all of these years. So it's always given us a great chance to play the run. But I do think it's because of our understanding of how to coach the secondary."

The Seahawks play plenty of Cover 3, but they've used a lot of man coverage -- specifically on third down -- in the past two years. Sherman has been asked to travel with opposing No. 1 wide receivers like Antonio Brown, A.J. Green and Dez Bryant. He has risen to the challenge in that role.

Behind Sherman, the Seahawks have DeShawn Shead, who is coming off a significant knee injury and is unlikely to be ready for the start of the season, and Jeremy Lane, who is better suited for a nickel role.

The Seahawks do need to get younger on defense but not at the expense of creating holes on their roster in a year that carries Super Bowl expectations. This isn't an either/or situation. They have five picks in the first three rounds. The plan can involve holding onto Sherman while simultaneously adding key pieces to the defense.

If the Seahawks were really concerned with getting younger, would they have signed 31-year-old defensive end Michael Bennett to a three-year extension in December? If they wanted more financial flexibility, wouldn't it have made more sense to part with Jimmy Graham and his $10 million salary than unload Sherman?

Carroll has created a culture in which players are encouraged to let their personalities show. Wide receiver Doug Baldwin has said that at times the players feel as if they need the chaos to realize their full potential. In the past, one quality that has set Carroll apart has been his ability to manage difficult personalities and difficult situations. That's what his aim needs to be with Sherman -- unless the All-Pro cornerback has made it clear that he wants out.

The Super Bowl window is wide open for the Seahawks, and the bottom line is that they're a better team with Sherman than without him. Pulling the trigger on a trade would create a hole on the roster and present an unnecessary gamble going into 2017.

But at this point, that seems like a risk the organization could be willing to take.