RENTON Undeniably, the Seahawks are facing a transition.
How upside-down could it seem, compared to the previous five years of playoffs and Super Bowls? The man with a torn Achilles about to have a second surgery is the star perhaps most likely to return to Seattle’s aging, issue-filled defensive secondary in 2018.
Three-time All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman will have a second surgery beyond the one that repaired his torn right Achilles tendon, coach Pete Carroll said Tuesday. This operation will be to clean out bone spurts “and things like that” in his other, left leg, and it should not slow Sherman’s return in time for next season, the coach said.
“He's going beautifully. He's got another surgery coming up, his other leg, to clean some stuff up,” Carroll said in his end-of-the-season press conference at Seahawks headquarters, two days after 2017 ended with a home loss to Arizona and Seattle out of the playoffs for the first time since 2011.
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“Not the same Achilles surgery that he had but he will have to a much lesser-degree recovery. It will be a four-to-six week thing, he thinks. But he's going to take care of himself to make sure that he's right. That's really important. He's really on the positive side. He's had a tremendous attitude about it. He feels pretty darn good. I think he's out of the boot (for his Achilles) like this week or something like that. So on goes his progress.
“I think in the next couple weeks he'll do the other one. He's got a cleanup job that he needs to do. He had a problem on both sides throughout the year."
Sherman tore his Achilles in his right foot Nov. 9 making a tackle in the win at Arizona. He had surgery and went on season-ending injured reserve Nov. 15. He was at team headquarters over the last month of the season wheeling around on a knee cart and then on crutches with a walking boot that had blinking Christmas lights wrapped around it.
The last seven games of the 2017 season were the first ones Sherman has missed in his NFL career he began with Seattle as a rookie fifth-round draft choice from Stanford in 2011. He will turn 30 in March. He has one year and $11 million in salary remaining on his contract extension he signed before the 2014 season. His 2018 salary-cap charge is scheduled to be $13.2 million.
Last season the Seahawks including general manager John Schneider were oddly public with details on fielding calls from other team about possibly trading Sherman. Now, with Sherman facing recoveries from two surgeries to return to play at age 30, his trade value has never been lower.
The rest of the “Legion of Boom” doesn’t seem as sure to return in 2018.
Carroll said Tuesday morning on Seattle’s KIRO-AM radio what been apparent for months, that strong safety Kam Chancellor plus defensive end Cliff Avril “are going to have a hard time playing football again” following their season-ending neck injuries and surgeries. That was the farthest Carroll has gone to saying their careers may end.
But their coach backed off that assessment later Tuesday morning while talking with reporters at team headquarters.
“Honestly, I really can't (say more about Chancellor’s and Avril’s futures),” Carroll said. “I shouldn't say anymore than we don't know yet. I don't know. I don't know what to tell you there.
“Both those guys are marvelous people and competitors and all that. We'd love to see them through the rest of their career. I don't know what's going to happen there."
I asked Carroll if it’s fair to say both veterans are dealing with quality-of-life issues beyond football.
“I think so for both those guys, yeah,” the coach said. “I think there are concerns.”
What about Earl Thomas for 2018? The three-time All-Pro free safety made his sixth Pro Bowl this past season, his return from a broken tibia he got colliding with Chancellor in a win over Carolina in December 2016.
Thomas feels endangered enough that he went to the Dallas Cowboys locker room on his way off the field in Texas from Seattle’s win there on Christmas Eve and told Cowboys coach Jason Garrett “come get me.” Thomas explained a few minutes later in his own locker room--that of the Seahawks, the team to which he’s contracted through 2018 at $8.5 million in base salary with a cap charge scheduled to be $10.4 million--that he meant he wanted the Cowboys to come get him “when Seattle kicks me to the curb.”
All that was a week after Thomas made Bobby Wagner mad by saying in the locker room following the blowout loss at home to the Rams that changed the season Dec. 17 Wagner should not have played that day on a pulled hamstring that obviously limited the All-Pro middle linebacker.
Tuesday, Carroll was asked directly if there was any reason to think Thomas won’t be on the Seahawks in 2018.
The coach didn’t answer directly.
“Earl had a terrific year, a really good year,” Carroll said. “Marvelous job recovering from his injury, and coming back. Shocked us with his return, but I shouldn't have been shocked with how competitive he was. I shouldn't have been surprised by that. But I just thought it was such a big injury that it would take him longer. But from the first day he jumped back on the practice field he shouldn't have been out there, but he was. And he never really backed off that. He had a marvelous season, and here he is going to the Pro Bowl again, and he deserves it.
"Earl had some media glitches along the way here (chuckles). But that's not his...that's not in his wheelhouse right there. He's a ball player."