During the past week or so, the talk surrounding Richard Sherman has been that he won’t return to the San Francisco 49ers in 2021. These aren’t rumors, as Sherman has said as much himself. That discussion isn’t going anywhere, and Sherman was asked about his future with the Niners on Thursday. He acknowledged the likelihood of the salary cap dropping and the fact that San Francisco has 49 unrestricted free agents:
“If there’s some miracle that happens, then sure there’s an opening. But there’s 40 free agents and they’ll probably have $30 million or less in cap and they have got to bring back Trent, who costs over $20 million. They have to pay Fred, who costs $18 million-plus a year. So anybody who knows the situation understands that.”
Sherman, who acts as his own agent, seemed self-aware on the Zoom call Thursday after practice. He’s aware that the 49ers have to prioritize who they bring back and all of the factors that go into making these decisions. Money, a limited salary cap, injuries, and age will all go against Sherman.
Giving Williams $20 million a year would make him the third-highest paid left tackle in the NFL. Paying Warner $18 million a season would make him the highest-paid off-ball linebacker in the league. If you’re going to give Sherman top-10-ish cornerback money, that means you’re paying him over $14 million a season. Only Patrick Peterson is north of 30 among the top-13 paid cornerbacks. Aside from Joe Haden this season, history has not been kind to the position once you reach the age of 30.
Sherman mentions the cap space is under $30 million. By releasing Dee Ford, Weston Richburg, Tevin Coleman, and possibly others, the 49ers could create over $15 million. Even then, you’re looking at paying another cornerback, perhaps an offensive lineman, and, dare I say, a quarterback. The 49ers will have their work cut out for them this offseason. Trying to fit Sherman into the equation would be difficult. It’s tough to justify paying him, despite being a Hall of Famer.