The NFL announced Pro Bowl rosters on Tuesday, and cornerback Richard Sherman did not make the list. He has had a solid year, but in light of how voting works for this, it’s not exactly a shocking snub. He has missed two games, and the fact that teams don’t challenge his side of the field means he does not get high profile interceptions. It’s been a great rebound from his torn Achilles, but again, it’s not surprising he did not get a Pro Bowl nod.
That being said, the non-selection impacts his contract moving forward. Sherman signed a contract that requires a lot of him with regard to Pro Bowl and All Pro selections. If he had made the Pro Bowl, his $1 million in per-game roster bonuses for 2019 would have turned into base salary. That means, he would have earned the money even if he was inactive for a stretch. He can still earn it, but not if he gets hurt.
More importantly, if he had made the Pro Bowl, his 2019 salary would become guaranteed for injury on the third day of the league year (in March), and fully guaranteed on April 1. Since he did not make the Pro Bowl, his 2019 salary is not guaranteed and so the 49ers can release him at any point between now and final roster cuts and not owe him future money.
Given how Sherman performed this year, it seems highly unlikely the 49ers will release him this coming offseason. They have young cornerbacks, but not enough have emerged that it makes sense to unload Sherman at this point. Second year cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon showed signs of life in the second half of the season before going on injured reserve. Rookie Tarvarius Moore gets a chance these final two games to build on his Week 15 appearance, but it’s unlikely to be enough for the 49ers to unload Sherman early in the offseason.
It will get interesting come training camp, particularly if the 49ers invest any significant assets in the position this offseason. Depending on where they land in the draft order, the 49ers could decide LSU cornerback Greedy Williams is the guy to pick. If that’s the case and Witherspoon or Moore beats out Sherman, maybe he ends up a training camp cut. I would be surprised if all this happened, but you never know.
If Sherman does make the roster, this starts all over again for 2020. The Pro Bowl incentive applies next year as well. Barring anything crazy, he will have a full healthy offseason under his belt. Add in a potentially improved pass rush and overall defense, and Sherman as a Pro Bowler next year is not out of the realm of the possible. If that happens, then the guarantees kick in for 2020.