Richard Sherman, intro'd as a 49er: “At the first sign of adversity Seahawks let me go”

New San Francisco 49ers cornerback and three-time All-Pro Richard Sherman says “there was no negotiation” when he met with the Seahawks and general manager John Schneider March 7 about his future, that they just cut him. He returns to Seattle to play his former Seahawks on Dec. 2.
New San Francisco 49ers cornerback and three-time All-Pro Richard Sherman says “there was no negotiation” when he met with the Seahawks and general manager John Schneider March 7 about his future, that they just cut him. He returns to Seattle to play his former Seahawks on Dec. 2. AP

As if he wasn’t already, two weeks after signing with the hated division rival by the Bay, Richard Sherman is anti-Seahawks now.

Or did you miss his red suit over black shirt and beaming smile on Tuesday, with the “SF” cap on top?

That’s after, he says, the Seahawks weren’t loyal. Were anti-him.

Seattle’s now-former franchise cornerstone and three-time All-Pro cornerback showed off his sharp, red suit and appreciation on Tuesday for the San Francisco 49ers, the team that gave him a three-year contract potentially worth up to $39 million to prove the Seahawks screwed up releasing him this month.

“I’m a pro’s pro. At the end of the day, the team that wanted me is the team that overall won the day,” Sherman said Tuesday at 49ers headquarters in Santa Clara, California, a few minutes from where he played in college for Stanford.

“It’s a business. The Seahawks made their business decision, made the decision that they needed to make. And the San Francisco 49ers made the decision that they needed to make.”

Earlier Tuesday, in an article with his byline in The Players’ Tribune entitled “How It All Went Down,” Sherman went into detail on that business decision.

He said there was no negotiation by the Seahawks and general manger John Schneider, the team and GM that drafted him in the fifth round in 2011 and watched him become a superstar.

“First of all, contrary to some reports, the Seahawks didn’t ask me to take a pay cut. There was no negotiation,” Sherman wrote. “When I met with them on March 7 to discuss my future, they informed me of their intent to release me.”

Two days later, “at 1 pm Pacific,” Sherman wrote, the Seahawks officially waived him.

“At like 1:03 pm, I got a call from the 49ers,” he said.

Sherman wrote about playing through Achilles pain last season for his teammates, though “I knew it was going to go at some point.” It did, on Nov. 9 while cutting toward a receiver in a win at Arizona.

“Seven years and I didn’t miss a game until my Achilles finally went,” he said of his Seahawks career.

“And this is what I get.

“At the first sign of adversity...they let me go.”

As for football, he says his rehabilitation from the surgery on his torn Achilles then recent surgery to clean up bone spurs in his other ankle is going remarkably well--enough that those procedures won’t delay him from starting his first 49ers training camp on time in late July.

“Oh, yeah, I’ll be back on the field May, June,” he said.

Sherman scoffed at comparisons to other players who were delayed or not the same coming back from a torn Achilles.

“There are some people that are cut from a different cloth,” he said. “I am one of those people.”

It won’t surprise you that Sherman doesn’t like criticism that he didn’t get a good deal from San Francisco, that while negotiating for himself he was had by his new team. His deal gives the 49ers a relatively easy out next year to release him, if he loses the bet he’s made on himself that he’ll return to his Pro Bowl form. If he does make another Pro Bowl, Sherman would have $8 million guaranteed by San Francisco on April 1, 2019, and also on April 1, 2020, for the final year of his deal.

The only season since 2012 Sherman has not been selected for the Pro Bowl was last season, after the Achilles tear.

“You got fans calling me a traitor and burning my jersey when they probably know that if they got fired from their job tomorrow, and a competitor offered them more money, they’d take it in a heartbeat,” he said.

“You got people out there running their mouths and bashing me for having the audacity to think I’m qualified to negotiate my own contract, like, Who do I think I am?

“Well, I’m the one looking out for myself and my family.”

Sherman had one season and $11 million left on his contract with the Seahawks when they waived him. No need to remind him none of that money was guaranteed. Or that he was turning 30 and coming off two ankle surgeries.

Ultimately, that is why the Seahawks released him. They needed salary-cap space. They entered the week they cut him at just $12 million under the cap, with free agency about to begin and many issues needing addressed after their first non-playoff season in six years. Sherman was scheduled to have Seattle’s second-highest salary in 2018 to Russell Wilson. And the Seahawks weren’t about to cut their 28-year-old quarterback upon whom the entire franchise is based.

Seattle couldn’t trade Sherman to get that cap space. He was damaged goods; Sherman’s trade value was never lower than it was this offseason.

So the Seahawks released him. Then they signed four players with the money they would have paid Sherman in 2018: outside linebacker Barkevious Mingo, ex-Carolina starting tight end Ed Dickson, former Rams starting strong safety Maurice Alexander and former Arizona wide receiver Jaron Brown.

That’s how an under-performing team rebuilds with limited resources. It frees money where it can, especially where it sees an ending, expensive contract that it feels far exceeds a players’ usefulness.

“I had no money guaranteed, coming off a ruptured Achilles. What security did I have?” Sherman said.

But with the 49ers?

“If I play at the level I’m used to,” Sherman said, “I’ll have security.”

Sherman disagrees with the way the Seahawks discarded him. He made it clear, though, he is not anti-Seattle.

“There may be very little loyalty in football, as I’ve learned, but Seattle is still where my kids will continue to go to school. It’s where I met Ashley,” he wrote in The Players’ Tribune of his fiancee he is going to marry next week. “It’s where her parents live. It’s where we own a home (in the southeast suburb of Maple Valley) that we don’t plan on selling. It’s where I’m going to continue to work with the kids in the surrounding communities the way I always have.

“Shoot, I own a Wingstop in Seattle (in West Seattle). And I highly doubt people there are gonna stop eating wings just because I don’t play football there anymore.”