The San Francisco 49ers pounced when the Seattle Seahawks released cornerback Richard Sherman, and the two sides got a deal done after a four-hour negotiation. Sherman represented himself, and it made for an interesting negotiation for both sides. Sherman, 49ers GM John Lynch, and team chief negotiator Paraag Marathe sat down with Peter King this weekend to discuss the deal, and it’s a fun read, while also answering some of the questions still hanging.
Why did Sherman not visit other teams?
Sherman took time to speak with other teams during the negotiation, talking to the three most interested teams. That group included the Oakland Raiders, Detroit Lions, and his own Seattle Seahawks. According to Sherman, the Seahawks had asked for the right of first refusal on a contract offer. When Sherman presented the 49ers offer, they felt the incentives were too rich for their blood. The Lions felt the same, while the Raiders said they did not feel they had the cap room to make this kind of deal work.
How much did playing Seattle twice a year factor into the deal?
It was likely not the sole reason, but it was definitely a reason.
“We had something no other team could offer,” Lynch said.
“The ability to play Seattle twice a year,” Lynch said.
When that was relayed to Sherman, he paused for a second.
Sherman said: “I’m vengeful in that way.”
That’s what it sounded like. But I wanted to make sure. I asked him to repeat that.
“Vengeful,” Sherman said. “I love the fan base to death, and I loved playing there. It was such a great opportunity. I helped the organization get to a great place and stay there. But now it’s like I abandoned them. People are out there burning my jersey. Come on. I’m not the one who let me go. They let me go. I didn’t abandon anybody.”
Vengeful feelings won’t help if he can’t fully bounce back from his torn Achilles, but if he is healthy, those two games against the Seahawks are going to be amazing “get your popcorn” games.
Gotta get your “throwing from the 1-yard line” jokes in
The article opens with quite the line from John Lynch. Apparently they were closing in on a deal, but Sherman wanted to sleep on it. Lynch told him they were on the one-yard line and they should punch it in and finish it. Sherman mentioned how badly things went a previous time at the one-yard line. Lynch responded, “I promise you, we won’t throw it this time.”
Thankfully Sherman did not take offense to that!
Richard Sherman wants to make sure the deal reflects a potential Super Bowl appearance
Sherman’s deal includes incentives if he is voted onto the Pro Bowl team. It allowed for payment if he is medically excused, but apparently did not specify what happens in one slight more important instance:
“This is how much Richard studied this,” Marathe said. “We had a clause in a bunch of our contracts saying players got an incentive for making the Pro Bowl, even if they were medically excused from playing in the Pro Bowl. Richard said, ‘What if I’m voted to the Pro Bowl and I can’t go because we’re in the Super Bowl?’ We thought, He’s right. Great observation. We changed the wording.”
Paraag Marathe talked about this being the second time he had negotiated with a player, without an agent involved. The other time was with Justin Smith, which he said took two minutes. The Sherman deal took four hours, with the cornerback having done plenty of homework in advance. He had studied various cornerback contracts, as well as those specific to what the 49ers had done.
Marathe was highly complimentary of Sherman’s work in the negotiations, but that’s not exactly surprising. It’s not like the 49ers were going to pound their chest in public about the deal and embarrass him. But it seems like both sides are happy with how this worked out. If Sherman is healthy, he has a strong chance at making what the Seahawks owed him last year, and can lock in some guarantees his previous contract did not have. If he is not healthy or loses a step, the 49ers are not on the hook for much and are protected.
The team almost always ends up the winner in NFL contract negotiations given the way guarantees work. And for a 30-year old player (turns 30 March 30) coming off an Achilles injury, it’s not easy to “win” a contract negotiation. But, Sherman is betting on himself. He’s not a guy I am inclined to doubt, but the 49ers still have protection if it does not work out.
Make sure and give Peter King’s full article a read.