Richard Sherman

East Rumors: Redskins, Elliott, Cutler

Redskins safety Su’a Cravens is expected to report to the team Tuesday, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. Cravens, of course, informed the club several weeks ago that he intended to retire only to reverse his decision almost immediately. Cravens has been in contact with head coach Jay Gruden, and the two have discussed football and life issues. As Rapoport suggests, the fact that Cravens is reporting does not necessarily mean that he will suit up right away, given that he is battling an injury and, as his recent history suggests, may be at a crossroads in his young life. Nonetheless, it is a positive step for one of the more promising defensive talents in the league.

Now for more from the league’s east divisions:

  • The Redskins reshuffled their front office in June, but per Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, the team considered adding another executive during training camp. Washington reportedly brought in James “Shack” Harris, Charles Bailey, Bill Kuharich, and Ron Hill to watch practice and meet with other staffers, but the team ultimately decided to stand pat and does not plan to make any other additions at this time.
  • Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott has never been arrested or charged with a crime, but since June 2014, Elliott’s name has appeared in at least four investigations concerning assault, battery, domestic violence, and disorderly conduct, as Brandon George of the Dallas Morning News writes. The entire piece is well worth a read, and it suggests a troubling pattern of behavior that Elliott will need to correct in order to live up to his sky-high potential.
  • Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald says Dolphins quarterback Jay Cutler has impressed the team with his demeanor and work ethic, and if he plays well this season, Salguero writes that Miami would consider re-signing him and trading Ryan Tannehill, thereby creating a great deal of cap room and netting an early draft choice in the process. We are a long way from that happening, of course, but if Cutler somehow becomes a modern-day Jim Plunkett, Tannehill could be on a different sideline in 2018.
  • We recently learned that the Dolphins were interested in trading for Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman, but Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports writes that Miami went hard after the star DB, making attempts to land him both back early in the free-agency signing period and as recently as last month.
  • Patriots LB Dont’a Hightower was riding a stationary bike after he left the team’s Week 1 contest with a right knee injury, leading to optimism that he might be ready for Week 2. However, Mike Reiss of ESPN.com reports that Hightower sought a second opinion from Dr. James Andrews last week, which Hightower did not deny. Problems with his right knee forced Hightower to begin training camp on the physically unable to perform list, and given that New England’s defense clearly needs him, this is a situation worth monitoring.

NFC Notes: OBJ, Sherman, Barr, Freeman

Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. returned to practice Thursday and is likely to make his season debut this week, which should be a boon to an offense that looked lost on season-opening Sunday. However, OBJ won’t be at full strength for a little while longer. The ankle injury that has bothered him since mid-August comes with a six- to eight-week recovery timeline, he revealed to Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com and other reporters Thursday. The Giants’ game against the Lions on Monday will mark exactly four weeks since Beckham suffered the injury, notes Raanan, meaning Big Blue might not see him at his best until the end of this month or sometime in October.

  • Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman has missed two straight practices with a hamstring issue, perhaps jeopardizing his chances of playing against San Francisco on Sunday. Watching the game in street clothes would be a first for Sherman, a seventh-year man who has played in 97 straight contests since the Seahawks added him as a fifth-round pick in 2011. Defensive coordinator Kris Richard suggested Thursday that Sherman’s streak will continue, telling reporters (via Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times) that he’s “not even considering” going without the corner because “it’s never happened here.”
  • Like Sherman, Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr has missed back-to-back practices with a hamstring injury. He’s now at risk of sitting out a game this week for the first time since December 2015, per The Associated Press. Barr played all 62 of the Vikings’ defensive snaps in their win over New Orleans on Monday. With or without the two-time Pro Bowler, the Vikings will face a difficult road test in Pittsburgh on Sunday.
  • Bears linebacker Jerrell Freeman announced on Instagram on Thursday that he suffered a torn pectoral on the first play of their loss to the Falcons in Week 1, Adam Jahns of the Chicago Tribune relays (on Twitter). Remarkably, Freeman still played roughly 95 percent of the Bears’ defensive snaps and racked up 10 tackles in their 23-17 defeat. The Bears placed Freeman on injured reserve this week and will go without him until at least November.

Dolphins Had Interest In Richard Sherman

The Seahawks were known to have discussed cornerback Richard Sherman with the Patriots this offseason, but apparently New England wasn’t the only AFC East club to have inquired on the All Pro defensive back. The Dolphins also asked about Sherman’s availability, reports Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, and while receiver Jarvis Landry was “raised” in talks, there’s no indication Landry was ever formally offered in negotiations.Richard Sherman (vertical)

Miami is no stranger to acquiring former Seattle cornerbacks, as the club picked up Byron Maxwell (after a one-year layover in Philadelphia) last season. But the Dolphins are still weak in the secondary, as second-year pro Xavien Howard and Alterraun Verner are the team’s top options behind Maxwell (Tony Lippett is out for the season, but his injury occurred after any presumptive Sherman talks). Recently, Miami went hard after free agent corner Joe Haden before he signed with the Steelers.

Sherman, who is due base salaries north of $11MM in each of the next two seasons, reportedly requested a trade out of Seattle, and the Seahawks attempted to honor his ask, but discussions seemingly never got serious with any other club. The Patriots were in the Sherman market but ultimately bowed out, possibly because of Seattle’s high asking price (a 2017 first-round pick plus a conditional mid-round choice in 2018).

Landry, meanwhile, has also been mentioned in trade rumors, although the Dolphins have refuted those reports. Scheduled to become a free agent next spring, Landry still hasn’t been offered an extension by Miami, which may prefer fellow wideout DeVante Parker. The franchise tag probably isn’t an option for the 24-year-old Landry, as the $16MM+ tender figure is likely untenable for a receiver who primarily plays in the slot.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Strike, Rams, Relocation

Contracts are guaranteed in the NBA, where even mediocre players are capable of landing mega-deals, leading some NFLers to publicly express displeasure with the fact that their league’s deals are non-guaranteed. While discussing that issue Wednesday, Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman offered a possible solution, albeit a controversial one.

“If we want as the NFL, as a union, to get anything done, players have to be willing to strike,” Sherman told ESPN’s Jalen Rose. “That’s the thing that guys need to 100 percent realize. You’re going to have to miss games, you’re going to have to lose some money if you’re willing to make the point, because that’s how MLB and NBA got it done. They missed games, they struck, they flexed every bit of power they had, and it was awesome. It worked out for them.”

NFL players haven’t gone on strike since 1987, though there was a brief lockout in 2011. With the collective bargaining agreement the owners and players negotiated then set to expire after the 2020 season, more labor strife is seemingly brewing. Back in February, months before Sherman’s strike recommendation, union boss DeMaurice Smith shot down the possibility of extending the CBA, and the players hadn’t given him permission as of last month to begin talks with the league on a new agreement.

More from around the league:

  • While Sherman and others aren’t thrilled with the league’s current financial setup, one player who has done well in the system is Rams cornerback Trumaine Johnson, writes Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. The Rams placed the franchise tag on Johnson both last year and this offseason, putting him in position to collect $30.672MM in guaranteed money from 2016-17. To hit Johnson with the franchise tag again next winter would cost the Rams an untenable $24.1MM, so he’ll reach the open market at the age of 28 and have an opportunity to cash in on a long-term contract.
  • Thanks to the relocations of the Rams, Chargers and Raiders, the league’s other 29 teams will each receive a gross sum of $55.2MM over an 11-year span, reports Darren Rovell of ESPN. The two Los Angeles teams, the Rams and Chargers, will each pay a $645MM relocation fee from December 2019 to December 2028, while the soon-to-be Las Vegas Raiders will owe $378MM. They won’t have to begin paying until the year they actually move to Vegas.
  • Bears linebacker Danny Trevathan is likely to open the season on the physically unable to perform list, suggests Chris Boden of CSN Chicago. Trevathan ruptured the patella tendon in his right knee last November, forcing him to sit out the Bears’ final five games of 2016, and he’ll miss their first six contests this year if he goes on the PUP list. The former Bronco is entering the second season of the four-year, $24.5MM pact he signed with Chicago in March 2016.

Latest On Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas

A report earlier this offseason indicated that the Seahawks’ Richard Sherman requested a trade, but the cornerback denied that was the case on Wednesday.

Richard Sherman (vertical)[RELATED: No Extension Talks Between Seahawks, Kam Chancellor]

“It’s just a conversation they have every year. I guess this year, more people knew about it,” Sherman said (via the Associated Press). “It’s a conversation they have every year — everybody’s open, everybody’s available. They just made sure I knew, and you guys found out. Pretty open about it. It was never a situation where anybody asked for it. It was just a conversation.”

Regardless of whether the seventh-year man asked out of Seattle, the club did shop him, as each of Sherman, general manager John Schneider and head coach Pete Carroll have acknowledged as much. The Seahawks were unable to find anyone to bite on their reportedly lofty asking price, though, so the four-time Pro Bowler is set to helm the team’s Legion of Boom secondary once again in 2017. Sherman seems content do that, as the 29-year-old doesn’t harbor any ill feelings against Seattle and suggested the team was only doing its due diligence in placing him on the block.

“If somebody comes with two first-rounders, I wouldn’t blame them in the least, you know? I wouldn’t blame them at all,” he stated (per Sheil Kapadia of ESPN.com). “It’d be another crazy trade. Who was it that got traded like that? Herschel Walker or something like that? But it’s just conversation. I think we have a fantastic relationship and always have. And it’s always been transparent to have those communications and not have them in a rude or discourteous way, but just professionally.”

While there were questions earlier in the offseason over whether Sherman would be a Seahawk in 2017, concerns existed that teammate and safety Earl Thomas, a fellow member of the Legion of Boom, wouldn’t play at all. The 28-year-old considered retirement after suffering a season-ending broken tibia in December, and he explained to 710 ESPN Seattle earlier this week why he nearly called it a career after seven years.

Earl Thomas (Vertical)

“I’m a speedster. So when I initially broke it, I’m like, ‘Dang, my career’s over with.’ That’s why I sent the tweet out,” said Thomas (via Kapadia). “Obviously I was very disappointed. I felt like I was having the best year of my career. But as you go through it, you learn, you understand that you can bounce back. And that’s where I’m at at this point.”

Unsurprisingly, financial reasons played a part in Thomas’ decision to return. Discussing when he decided to put off retirement, Thomas said: “I couldn’t tell you exactly at what point. It was a little bit of everything. I just felt like it wasn’t time. I saw Eric Berry get that huge deal. There’s never enough of that. So just a lot of things that made me come back.”

Berry, a fellow safety who’s the same age as Thomas, re-signed with the Chiefs on a six-year, $78MM contract in February. Thomas still has two years remaining on the four-year, $40MM pact he inked in 2014, but the five-time Pro Bowler will cash in again if he bounces back from his injury to continue performing at a star-caliber level. While Thomas still hasn’t fully recovered, “he’s doing way beyond what we thought he could be,” noted Carroll. Thomas expects to be on the field when Seattle opens its season in Green Bay on Sept. 10.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Seahawks, Villanueva, Jaguars

The Seahawks made several changes to their offensive line this summer, adding free agents Luke Joeckel and Oday Aboushi and drafting second-rounder Ethan Pocic. While offensive line coach Tom Cable is generally bullish about this unit prior to training camp, he was especially happy with the organization’s offseason additions.

“I’d like to get to camp, but I’m the most excited coach on the staff right now,” Cable told ESPN.com’s Sheil Kapadia. “That’s what I’ve told coach [Pete Carroll] and John [Schneider, Seahawks general manager]. I appreciate them putting this together in a year’s time and doing a fantastic job. Our personnel guys nailed this, so it’s just a matter of getting them in the right spots and going and playing ball.”

Let’s take a look at some other notes from around the NFL…

  • Following news that Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman had been holding a grudge against both quarterback Russell Wilson and Carroll over the past two seasons, the veteran was quick to dismiss the story. “He asked a few questions to a few cowardly people,” Sherman said of USA Today writer Seth Wickersham (via, ironically, Liz Mathews of USA Today). “And I’ll be calling you cowards if you’re afraid to put your name on it. If you have a comment, if you’ve got something to say, you’ve got something to ask or something and you’re not willing to put your name on it, you’re kind of a coward. But maybe they’re not cowards and maybe these people never existed. Because who knows? You don’t even have to exist. You don’t have to prove anything in this world anymore…And that’s what I mean when I say there are a lot of TMZ-like media going on because guys like this — nobody is going to ever question him if they come to find out, hey, he could have fabricated this whole story and, I mean, outside of him saying there was an interaction at practice, none of the rest of it was true. But heck, what did he have to lose? I think it’s really unfortunate that’s it’s come to that.”
  • Left tackle Alejandro Villanueva is currently without a contract ahead of the Steelers upcoming mandatory minicamp. When asked by ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler whether he’ll be in attendance, the 28-year-old indicated that he might be willing to hold out. “I’m obviously trying to be a Steeler but it’s something that my agent and the front office will work to sort out,” said Villanueva. The former Army standout didn’t sign his ERFA tender this offseason, although he did ink a waiver/agreement that allowed him to participate in OTAs.
  • Jaguars safety Peyton Thompson has been cut six times during his career, including twice by Jacksonville. However, considering the injuries to the team’s secondary, Ryan O’Halloran of Jacksonville.com believes the 26-year-old finally has a chance to earn a more significant defensive role. The former undrafted free agent has played in 30 games for the Jaguars over the past two seasons, compiling 27 tackles.

NFC Notes: Kap, Giants, Seahawks, Cards

Count the Giants among the teams that didn’t consider signing free agent Colin Kaepernick when they were in the market for a backup quarterback, co-owner John Mara told Jenny Ventras of The MMQB. Mara, whose Giants ended up signing Geno Smith and drafting Davis Webb to back up Eli Manning, revealed to Ventras that the team’s fans haven’t been shy about voicing their disdain for the polarizing Kaepernick. “All my years being in the league, I never received more emotional mail from people than I did about that issue,” said Mara. “If any of your players ever do that, we are never coming to another Giants game. It wasn’t one or two letters. It was a lot. It’s an emotional, emotional issue for a lot of people, moreso than any other issue I’ve run into.”

More from the NFC:

  • Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman has reportedly been disgruntled since their February 2015 loss to the Patriots in Super Bowl XLIX, and Peter King of The MMQB places some of the blame for that on Pete Carroll. The head coach has created too loose an atmosphere, suggests King; in spite of that, though, King doesn’t expect any drama this year from Sherman, as he’ll have plenty of eyes on him from both the team and the media on the heels of a contentious 2016 and a trade rumor-filled offseason.
  • One of Sherman’s Seahawks teammates, second-year runner C.J. Prosise, has a chance to emerge as one of the NFL’s best pass-catching backs this year, posits Sheil Kapadia of ESPN.com. With fellow RBs Eddie Lacy and Thomas Rawls in the fold, carries will be difficult to come by for Prosise, but he could break out as a 60-catch type for a team whose backs hauled in 75 passes last season, writes Kapadia. Only three RBs – Arizona’s David Johnson, Pittsburgh’s Le’Veon Bell and New England’s James White – racked up 60 or more receptions in 2016. Prosise, who missed 10 games as a third-round rookie, finished with 17 grabs on 19 targets and posted a lofty yards-per-catch average for a back (12.2).
  • Cardinals third-round rookie wide receiver Chad Williams has stood out as an “athletic freak” during OTAs, according to Josh Weinfuss of ESPN.com. The former Grambling State star has impressed head coach Bruce Arians, who said of the 98th overall pick: “He’s shown up a lot already. It’s a tough room to crack but he’s off [to] a good start.” Arizona’s receiving corps underwhelmed last season, thanks in part to injuries, with its second, third, fourth and fifth wideouts only combining for 10 more catches (117) than No. 1 man Larry Fitzgerald had by himself (107). Given that Fitzgerald might be entering his last season and John Brown is scheduled to hit free agency next March, Williams could soon become an integral piece of the Cardinals’ offense if his work this spring carries into game situations.

NFC Notes: Hawks, Giants, Eagles, Cowboys

ESPN’s Seth Wickersham reported Thursday that Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman has been holding a grudge against both quarterback Russell Wilson and head coach Pete Caroll since the team’s devastating Super Bowl XLIX loss to the Patriots in 2015. But Sherman and defensive end Michael Bennett insist that’s not true (via Kevin Patra of NFL.com). “It’s just a bunch of nonsense from ‘anonymous’ sources. Can never put much gravity of things like that,” said Sherman, who, according to Wickersham, “allowed himself to imagine playing for the Cowboys” when Seattle placed him on the trade block earlier this spring. Bennett, meanwhile, dismissed the article as “trash” and “all gossip.”

The latest from the NFC East…

  • In an interview with 105.1 FM in New York on Thursday, now-Bears wide receiver Victor Cruz implied that the Giants didn’t involve him in their offense more last year because they knew they’d release him in the offseason (per Ralph Vacchiano of SNY). “Halfway through the year, you’re like, ‘OK, I’m balling,’ and then the other half I’m not getting the ball,” he said. “And you’re just like, ‘What’s going on?’ It was like, ‘OK, I see what’s happening. They don’t want me here anymore.’” Continued Cruz, who caught 39 of 72 targets in 2016: “If I played well, they owed me a ton of money that next year. So it was like, ‘let’s get Cruz off the books.'” Unsurprisingly, head coach Ben McAdoo refuted Cruz’s claims, telling reporters that “there is no accuracy” to the wideout’s theory (via Lorenzo Reyes of USA Today).
  • Cutting receiver Nelson Agholor would cost the Eagles more money than they’d save ($4.68MM versus $2.56MM), but his roster spot nonetheless looks to be in jeopardy, writes Andrew Kulp of CSNPhilly.com. Philadelphia signed two proven receivers in March, Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith, to join Jordan Matthews, which could further marginalize Agholor. A first-round pick just two years ago, Agholor caught only 59 of 114 targets and three touchdowns from 2015-16.
  • It continues to look as though Cowboys offensive lineman La’el Collins will move to right tackle after functioning as a left guard during his first two seasons. Collins has lined up solely at right tackle during organized team activities this week and will likely continue to do so leading up to the season, according to Kate Hairopoulos and Brandon George of the Dallas Morning News. The position opened up in Dallas when starter Doug Free retired earlier this offseason, and if Collins fills it, either Jonathan Cooper or Emmett Cleary could take over at left guard, per Hairopoulos and George.

Richard Sherman Wanted Cowboys Trade?

The Richard Sherman trade talk didn’t result in a trade this offseason, but things got serious enough for Sherman to daydream about where he might land. When things were bubbling earlier this year, Sherman told friends that he “allowed himself to imagine playing for the Cowboys,” Seth Wickersham of ESPN.com writes. Richard Sherman (vertical)

We have no indication that there were ever talks between the Cowboys and Seahawks, but Sherman would have been a logical fit for Dallas on a football level. The Cowboys’ secondary was picked apart in free agency this year as cornerbacks Morris Claiborne and Brandon Carr left along with safeties Barry Church and J.J. Wilcox. Cowboys did draft three cornerbacks to help replenish that group, but a similar approach didn’t do a whole lot for the Panthers last year. The addition of Sherman would give them a bonafide CB1 alongside Orlando Scandrick and immediately cement them as one of the best overall defenses in the league.

Of course, there would have been many barriers to a potential trade. For starters, the Cowboys were very tight against the cap this offseason, which is what caused them to lose talented members of the secondary in the first place. Even now, Dallas has just ~$3.5MM in cap space, according to Over The Cap. Even when considering that the Cowboys wouldn’t be responsible for Sherman’s $2.2MM prorated bonus, he’d still carry a hefty $11.431MM cap charge for 2017.

In addition to making room for Sherman under the cap, the Cowboys would have also had to part with a significant amount of draft capital in order to acquire him. At one point, the Seahawks’ asking price was reportedly a first-round pick in the 2017 and a conditional mid-rounder in 2018. That ask, understandably, was too rich for anyone’s blood.

A trade sending Sherman to Dallas was probably never going to happen, but the fact that he was picturing himself in a Cowboys jersey tells us that the trade talk was indeed serious. And, if Sherman and the Seahawks are unable to mend fences, his affinity for the Cowboys is something to keep in mind for next offseason. If Sherman declines, the Seahawks could release him and save $11MM while carrying just $2MM in dead money. If he continues to play like a top cornerback but is still at odds with the team, the Cowboys may have the cap flexibility to get something done.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Seahawks Expect To Retain Richard Sherman

Less than two weeks ago, Seahawks general manager John Schneider wasn’t ready to rule out trading cornerback Richard Sherman. But with the draft having passed since then, it appears the team’s chance to deal the four-time Pro Bowler has gone by the wayside.

Richard Sherman (vertical)[RELATED: Earl Thomas On Track For Opener]

As a guest on the “Brock and Salk” show on 710 ESPN Seattle on Thursday, head coach Pete Carroll addressed the odds of a Sherman trade, saying (via Sheil Kapadia of ESPN.com): “I don’t think anybody’s going to offer us anything that would make it worthwhile, because there’s no draft involved and all that kind of stuff. But that’s always out there. There’s always opportunities to trade. But the likelihood is like zero percent, it seems like. Teams don’t want to give up stuff. They don’t want to trade at times like this, and it’s really hard to navigate through a trade with experienced players during draft time. It just doesn’t happen very often.”

While Sherman and the Seahawks had mutual interest in parting ways earlier this spring, no one was willing to meet the club’s asking price (reportedly a first-round pick this year and a conditional mid-rounder in 2018). Now, there’s “no animosity at all” between the two sides, according to Carroll, who believes his relationship with the 29-year-old is “as good as it’s ever been.” To Carroll, shopping Sherman was an example of the Seahawks doing their due diligence.

“We don’t want to trade guys,” he said. “We want to keep our guys. But we have to in an effort to always work to be better and help our team. We’ve got to listen and all that. So we went through that process. There was very open conversation about that.”

Now that Sherman will return to helm the Legion of Boom again in 2017, Carroll noted that the Seahawks need “to continue to dig into [Sherman] and make sure that he’s really at the height of his game, intensity-wise.” Sherman wasn’t necessarily at the height of his game, performance-wise, in 2016, but he still served as a top-notch defender. In the fifth straight 16-start season of his career, the six-year veteran tallied four interceptions and 13 passes defensed, and ranked among Pro Football Focus’ 15 best corners.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.