Richard Sherman reportedly told friends he imagined playing for the Cowboys, Patriots
Sherman reportedly still hasn't gotten over the Seahawks' Super Bowl loss to the Patriots
Richard Sherman . It sounds ridiculous enough when you say those six words out loud but there were discussions inside the organization about shipping the Pro Bowl cornerback out of Seattle, partly because that Pro Bowl cornerback reportedly wanted out of Seattle.
With OTAs upon us and training camp just a few months off, all now seems well, though this peek behind the curtain from ESPN's Seth Wickersham provides insights into how things got to this point. The short version: Sherman, perhaps one of the league's most intense players, took issue with the kid-gloves treatment star quarterback Russell Wilson received from coach Pete Carroll. That dynamic was manageable as the Seahawks were hoisting the Lombardi Trophy following the systematic dismantling of Peyton Manning and the Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII. The tipping point came a year later when Seattle had a chance at back-to-back Super Bowl titles but with 26 seconds left, the ball at the Patriots' 1-yard line and Marshawn Lynch in the backfield, the Seahawks called a pass play.
Seconds later, Malcolm Butler became a household name and Sherman was denied what he felt was rightfully his. And in his own way, he took it out on Carroll and Wilson.
According to interviews with numerous current and former Seahawks players, coaches and staffers, few have taken it harder than Richard Sherman. He has told teammates and friends that he believes the Seahawks should have won multiple Super Bowls by now. And with just one trophy and the window closing fast, he has placed responsibility for that failing on the two faces of the franchise: Wilson and Carroll. Sherman, who like Wilson declined comment for this story, thinks Carroll hasn't held Wilson or many young Seahawks to the defense's championship standard. He's been disillusioned not only by that single play more than two years earlier but also by his coach's and quarterback's response to it.
Sherman has always been intense, even before Malcolm Butler happened, and Wickersham paints a vivid picture of that intensity during a June 2014 practice, Wilson's third year in the league. A few plays after Sherman ripped the helmet off a Seahawks receiver (that invariably led to a brawl), the cornerback intercepted Wilson. To punctuate the play -- and perhaps to reinforce just how important this defense was to the team's success -- Sherman fired the ball in Wilson's direction and yelled, "You f----ing suck!"
More from Wickersham:
Pete Carroll stopped practice and would later hold a series of meetings to remind the players they needed to build each other up, not tear each other down -- and that they needed to support their quarterback, further pissing off a defense that already thought the head coach went out of his way to protect him.
Fast-forward to the 2016 season, and as the Seahawks' offense struggled to score points, Sherman's frustrations grew. (According to Football Outsiders' metrics, Seattle's offense finished the year ranked 17th and its defense ranked fifth.) The team finished 10-5-1, won the division and beat the Lions in a wild-card game before succumbing to the high-powered Falcons in the divisional round. But in Sherman's eyes, this group was supposed to be winning Super Bowls and a punchless offense -- led by Wilson -- wasn't doing its part.
That friction is why, Wickersham writes, Sherman wanted out.
This offseason Sherman and Carroll held several private conversations. Sherman had told friends that he allowed himself to imagine playing for the Cowboys, maybe the Patriots, hoping Lynch would come out of retirement and join him in New England. But unless bad teams like the Bills or Browns gave up two first-round picks, he wasn't going anywhere.
So Sherman stays and there are no plans to trade him. Which means he'll line up at left cornerback like he has done for the past six seasons, and he'll be joined by the rest of the Legion of Boom in an effort to get the Seahawks back to the Super Bowl. Whether Wilson and the offense can return to their 2014 form, when they ranked No. 5 in total offense (they were first in rushing, 10th in the passing), well that's another story entirely.
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