It's no secret the Dallas Cowboys have been attempting to reconstruct the framework of the once infamous Legion of Boom, but having failed to do so to this point. The addition of Kris Richard as passing game coordinator in 2018 was a lynchpin in their more recent attempts, but Richard was let go in 2020 when the head coach and defensive regime changed. One year later, -- one that sees Dan Quinn taking over after a historically abysmal showing by now-fired defensive coordinator Mike Nolan -- which serves as a reset button to build in Dallas what the Seattle Seahawks once boasted, and this is where Richard Sherman might come into play.
For while head coach Mike McCarthy remains ice cold at the moment on joining forces with troubled former Seahawks safety Earl Thomas, sources tell CBS Sports, the door is far from welded shut when it comes to Sherman. With the addition of Quinn, the Cowboys have not ruled out interest in possibly signing Sherman in free agency, separate sources affirm, and are actually open to establishing a dialogue with the five-time All-Pro to gauge his interest.
The conversation would have to inevitably dive much, much deeper before either side would agree to it, though.
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For starters, Sherman earned an average annual salary (AAS) of $9.05 million on his three-year deal with the San Francisco 49ers, so don't expect him to suddenly drop his price to the veteran minimum or anything near it. There are factors working in the Cowboys favor in that regard though, because the five-time Pro Bowler will be 33 years old in March and missed 11 games in 2020 due to injury. The latter marks yet another bout with durability issues that, combined with age, should rightfully reduce his asking price -- to a more palatable mark and one that truly reflects the risk versus reward model on him. Contrarily, in Sherman's favor will be the fact he can still impact games when healthy -- one of his Pro Bowl seasons happening as recently as 2019 -- combined with Dallas' need at the position.
It needs to be said they're also not adverse to taking the risk on a big name coming off of injury, as they circle back in 2021 to discuss aas one such example.
The salary will be a key talking point when factoring in the cap crunchbut, as noted, both the Cowboys and Sherman have leverage and it's a matter of who'd be more willing to acquiesce.
As it stands, cornerbacks Chidobe Awuzie, Jourdan Lewis and C.J. Goodwin are set to hit free agency, leaving several holes to be filled beside of rookie sensation Trevon Diggs and, even if one or two are retained, none of them boast the resume or level of play as a healthy Sherman. Granted, there's not much Sherman could do in the role of a nickel corner (Lewis), but he could readily step in and replace a potentially departing Awuzie while giving the Cowboys a bridge to whomever they decide to select with the 10th-overall pick, assuming it's a top cornerback prospect.
This could create a situation wherein Sherman gets a healthy snap count (something he'll want to be assured of) while both managing it to help keep him healthy and to prevent him from being a progress-stopper for the incoming talent. And when it comes to football IQ, Sherman has it in spades, and the young Cowboys defensive backs would do well to absorb as much of it as they can. It's this point that also goes to what he'd bring to the locker room, one that lacked vocal leadership in the secondary this past season.
Sherman will obviously want to also play for a contender -- a point the Cowboys will have to sell as well which, ironically,.
All told, it stands to reason the Cowboys would be open to the idea, and while Sherman would've scoffed at it as recently as a year prior -- due to his vocal displeasure with owner Jerry Jones' handling of silent protests during (not of) the national anthem -- the climate in North Texas is seemingly different now, and for a couple of reasons. First, there's the newfound "grace" within Jones that saw him sign and retain defensive lineman Dontari Poe despite Poe's decision to kneel during the anthem, with his release being solely due to continued poor play and mostly being out of shape. This is something that could very well soften the edges as it relates to Sherman, as would his admiration of Mike McCarthy and, more so, the new defensive head honcho.
Quinn and Sherman maintain a strong relationship stemming back to their days in Seattle, routinely staying in touch to a point where Quinn would text Sherman as he worked to recover from a torn Achilles in 2017. Recently, Sherman heaped praise upon his former coach and gave insight into the overall defensive style to come in Dallas -- recalling an NFL moment he'll never forget.
"We were losing 16-0 at halftime -- it wasn't because we played bad, it was because our offense has turned the ball over a ton -- and we were running Cover 3, but we were also running fire zones to try and disrupt Aaron [Rodgers], and [Rodgers] was spotting them before we could ever get anywhere," Sherman said, via ESPN. "So [Quinn] came to us at halftime and said, 'We can't run another snap of zone. We're going to man them up the rest of the game. We've got to. That's the only way we're going to win this game.'
"They had [six] points after halftime. We came back, took it to OT, had the big pass play, and we got out of the game. It's one of those things where that wasn't necessarily the strength of what we did, but [Quinn] needed that out of us. And we gave it to him."
It's a less complicated but more aggressive scheme Quinn is set to install for the Cowboys, and one Sherman is a huge fan of.
"A lot of times, it's just knowing the guy's strengths and just playing toward them," Sherman added. "He won't put guys out of positions and ask them to do something crazy. Now, from time to time, you've got to put guys where they're uncomfortable just to make the defense work but, for the most part, he's going to put guys in the best possible position [to succeed regularly]."
And as for Quinn's feelings on Sherman, well, he's already looking for the same archetype in Dallas.
"What you're trying to do is find some of the traits [you'd find in Sherman]," he said not long after putting pen to paper with the Cowboys, via the PFF NFL Podcast. "You may not find a corner [like Sherman], but what you can find is like, how important ball skills are -- the ability to stop, plant, recall. ... Like, how smart he is.''
Or, and this is a thought process in Dallas at the moment, they could just add the real thing and also look for a CB2 successor that fits the same mold (price permitting) -- the rookie actively learning details of the original mold in real time. It could be a win-win for the Cowboys that also provides insurance against Sherman potentially missing time with injury, and the aforementioned ... er ... um ... tolerance (?) of Jones on social injustice issues and addition of Quinn might be fragrant enough to lure Sherman into at least seeing what the Cowboys have in mind.
"[The Legion of Boom] had two of our best years with [Quinn], and it was consistent," Sherman said of Quinn in 2019. "It was every game. Every game you're at halftime you're like, 'Damn, that's a hell of a thought. I didn't even think to do that. We probably should shade over to this guy. We should blitz through this gap. Or we should just go, or stop blitzing.'
"I think he's one of the best defensive minds in the game."
Time will tell if that's enough to have him dial the Cowboys in free agency, but they'll take his call if he does, and that's assuming Quinn doesn't text him first.