Over the past few days, the Richard Sherman trade rumors have intensified.
Reportedly, the Patriots may be interested, and there’s some speculation about the Falcons being a fit.
But what about the Buffalo Bills? They could be a dark-horse to inquire and potentially trade for the former All-Pro cornerback.
While any type of trade is unlikely, as Seahawks HC Pete Carroll and GM John Schneider have stated, there’s a Buffalo-Seattle swap that would make sense for both sides.
And actually, there’s a recent precedent for a trade of an elite cornerback.
In 2013, the Buccaneers traded a first-round pick — No. 13 overall — and a conditional fourth that became a third for Darrelle Revis. At the time, Revis was coming off an ACL tear but was a few months away from his 28th birthday.
From 2009 - 2011, Revis was a first-team All-Pro. Sherman received the same distinctions from 2012 - 2014.
Going into the 2017 draft with only six selections — two Round 5 picks but no picks in Round 4 or Round 7 — the Bills aren’t in a position to unload a handful of draft choices, and it’s highly unlikely new HC Sean McDermott would want to give up the No. 10 overall selection in this draft, although that’d probably get the trade done.
But the Bills have Cyrus Kouandjio, the club’s 2014 second-round pick, who filled in very well at left tackle for Cordy Glenn in 2016.
The Seahawks added former No. 3 overall pick Luke Joeckel in free agency, yet he was a flop as a blindside protector with the Jaguars and only signed a one-year contract. While that deal consists of $7 million guaranteed, both Schneider and Carroll have indicated Joeckel could actually play left guard, the spot he manned in 2016 before suffering season-ending knee-ligament tears.
Seattle has famously been enamored with offensive linemen with freakish physical characteristics since Schneider and Carroll took over. Their first-round selection in 2016, Texas A&M’s Germain Ifedi, is a 6’6”, 324-pound blocker with monstrous 36” arms.
Kouandjio is 6’7”, 322 pounds with 35 5/8” arms. He’s currently sitting idle on Buffalo’s roster behind Glenn, who’s one of more underrated left tackles in the league and an entrenched starter at that spot for the Bills. He’s signed through 2020.
Obviously Buffalo would need to sweeten the deal beyond Kouandjio for Sherman straight up. Its second-round choice in 2017 — No. 44 overall — should be enticing for Seattle. A 2018 fourth-round pick would be that sweetener.
Because Buffalo would be giving the Seahawks a likely starter at a premium position — who’d be cheap in 2017 — and a valuable, Top 50 draft selection, they could ask for the last of Seattle’s three third-round picks in the 2017 draft, which is No. 106 overall.
Seahawks get: LT Cyrus Kouandjio, Bills Round 2 pick (No. 44), 2018 Round 4 pick (TBD)
Bills get: CB Richard Sherman, Seahawks Round 3 pick (No. 106)
Remember (hat tip to Dan Lavoie on this as well), Sherman has had some battles with Seahawks brass after the 2016 season concluded.
Here’s what Kenneth Arthur of Field Gulls wrote on this topic:
“On and off the field, Sherman has gotten into heated arguments with teammates, the head coach, the offensive coordinator, the defensive coordinator, and the media, and that’s just within the last six months.”
Schneider has recently fueled trade rumors, something uncommon for a GM to do that doesn’t help the cornerbacks’ value in a potential swap.
Sherman is the ultimate Cover 3 cornerback, standing nearly 6’3” with 32” arms and a 38” vertical leap.
He’s become a master of playing the boundary in Seattle’s Cover 3-based scheme. In 90 career starts, Sherman has 30 interceptions. In 96 career NFL games, Sherman has been credited with a ridiculous 97 pass breakups and has hit double digits in that category in every season as a pro. No cornerback in football plays the deep third as effectively.
As a 28 year old in 2016, Sherman had 58 tackles, four picks and 13 pass breakups. He turned 29 on March 30.
McDermott’s runs a Cover 3 system similar — on the back end — to Seattle’s defense.
From an on-field perspective, Sherman would be a tremendous addition and fit in Buffalo’s new defense.
For the Seahawks:
They’d get a starting caliber left tackle who won’t be 24 until July 21. Though they don’t get a first-round pick in this draft, they get Buffalo’s second rounder — No. 44 overall — to possibly find a Sherman replacement in this loaded cornerback class instead of having to wait until their original Round 2 pick — No. 58 overall — comes around. The Round 4 selection in 2018 is a quality throw in. By moving Sherman, they’d save $9.2M in cap space in 2017, and then he’d be completely off their books by 2018. With three picks in the third round of this draft, they’d most likely be willing to part with the latest one, No. 106 overall, which is a compensatory selection.
For the Bills:
They’d get football’s premier Cover 3 cornerback with Hall-of-Fame-caliber play-making ability. He’d come at a price tag of $11.4M in 2017 and $11M in 2018 — his base salaries for those two years — which would essentially mean they’d be paying him a shade higher than the $10.5M per year offer they had on the table for Stephon Gilmore before the 2016 season. Right now, according to the NFLPA, the Bills only have $11M in cap space and need about $6M for their 2017 draft class. However, it wouldn’t be difficult to convert some of his $11.4M salary into a signing bonus, thereby lowering his 2017 cap hit. Buffalo will get $2.4M in extra cap relief after June 1 due to the Aaron Williams’ post-June 1 release.
Yes, Sherman is 29, and is coming off an MCL injury, yet playing corner in a defense that predominantly runs Cover 3 is less physically demanding than excelling in press man-to-man, therefore he should able to play at very high level for at least two or three more seasons. Buffalo would keep its first-round pick to potentially grab a wide receiver, linebacker, or free safety and could find a quality cornerback in Round 3 — with one of its two picks in that round — to groom under Sherman, Darby, and Seymour.