Richard Sherman opens up about Seahawks, why he signed with 49ers as his own agent

After years of flourishing in his role as the Seahawks' superstar cornerback and the 49ers' most hated rival, Richard Sherman is a member of the 49ers. It's been more than a week since Sherman signed with the 49ers after getting cut by the Seahawks, and it still sounds weird to say 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman. 

It looks just as weird too:

That picture was taken at Sherman's introductory press conference on Tuesday. Just before he was introduced, The Players' Tribune published a piece written by Sherman, who decided to detail the past week or so as well as explain his decision to sign with the 49ers as his own agent. 

He began by detailing how the Seahawks cut him. According to Sherman, he never refused to take a pay cut to remain in Seattle, because the Seahawks never asked him to. 

"There was no negotiation," he wrote. 

Sherman revealed that the 49ers actually called him just minutes after he was released. He flew down to San Jose later that day and met with 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan, who "really impressed" him. The next day, Sherman got checked out by the 49ers' doctors before meeting with general manager John Lynch and the team's cap strategist. Sherman ended up signing a three-year deal with the team. 

Before he committed to the 49ers, he did what Seahawks GM John Schneider asked of him, giving Seattle a call to see if they would match the 49ers offer. The Seahawks didn't match.

"I disagree," Sherman said of the Seahawks' decision to let him go. 

Sherman admitted that having the opportunity to play the Seahawks twice a season is "definitely a perk," but he denied that it was the only reason he settled on San Francisco. He cited (1) the 49ers' "genuine interest" in him because he wanted to feel "wanted," (2) the three-year offer because he didn't want to be a free agent again in a year, and (3) the location because he attended Stanford and his family wanted to remain on the west coast. So, there you have it. It's not entirely about revenge, but it's partly about revenge.

It's worth noting that Sherman clearly has tons of affection for Seattle. Based on what he wrote, that won't ever be changing. But he did note that the unpleasant reaction by some Seahawks fans in the aftermath of his deal with the 49ers has "made me more aware of the hate and hypocrisy that's out there."

The contract wasn't just controversial because Sherman agreed to sign with the Seahawks' rival. It was also controversial due to the exact details of the contract. Some, including future Hall of Fame left tackle Joe Thomas, called it a bad contract negotiated by a first-time player-agent.

Sherman provided a counter argument in his story. According to Sherman, he'll be "compensated accordingly" if he returns to his Pro Bowl form. If he doesn't, the 49ers won't be stuck paying "for somebody who's not on the field and who's not playing at a high level." 

He explains:

Under my previous contract with Seattle, I had no guaranteed money for 2018. In my new deal with the 49ers, I get a guaranteed $3 million signing bonus right off the bat and another $2 million if I pass a physical before November 11, which is the last day a team can bring a player off the PUP list. And in a sport where contracts aren't fully guaranteed, money in hand is better than anything. So $5 million for just signing the contract and passing a physical is a big win for me.

[...]

Outside of this past season, I've never missed a game in my NFL career. So on top of my signing bonus and my $2 million base salary for 2018, we put incentives in the contract that will pay me more depending on how much I play — on both a per-game basis and a percentage of defensive snaps — as well whether or not I make the Pro Bowl or the All-Pro team. All in all, including my signing bonus, I could earn as much as $13 million for 2018.

"It gets a little complicated after that," Sherman wrote. He also noted that "agents negotiate bad deals all the time" and that he "wanted to be represented by somebody who was going to look out for my best interest and nothing else." He found that in himself.

So, can Sherman regain his prior form? That's really the most important question in all of this.

It's not like Sherman suddenly regressed to the point where he was a liability last season, but he wasn't at his best either. In a nine-game 2017 season, Sherman notched two interceptions and seven passes defended. According to Pro Football Focus, Sherman allowed a 75.5 passer rating in coverage, which ranked 24th among qualified cornerbacks. 

That's a solid stat line, it's just that we're used to seeing so much more from Sherman, who's racked up a league-high 32 interceptions since he entered the league in 2011, per Pro Football Reference's database. Sherman's 75.5 passer rating in coverage was the worst of his career, as you can see below:

INTs

Passes defended

Passer rating

2011

4

17

57.3

2012

8

24

48.3

2013

8

18

31.4

2014

4

11

39.8

2015

2

14

67.6

2016

4

13

68.4

2017

2

7

75.5

Again, it's not like his 2017 was bad. But considering how it ended -- he tore his Achilles in November -- it's not unfair to be a little bit skeptical of the soon-to-be 30-year-old.

In his piece, he provided good news about the injury, writing that he's "on pace to be back on the field doing drills by June" and that he'll be ready for Week 1.

Sherman's entire story, titled "How It All Went Down," is worth a read. You can find it on The Players' Tribune by clicking right here.

CBS Sports Writer

Sean Wagner-McGough joined CBS Sports in 2015 after graduating from UC Berkeley. A native of Seattle, Sean now resides in the Bay Area. He spends his spare time defending Jay Cutler on Twitter. Full Bio

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