SF 49ers free agency: Re-signing Richard Sherman doesn’t make sense

San Francisco 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman (25) Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
San Francisco 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman (25) Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

Niner Noise looks at why the SF 49ers should move on from Richard Sherman after this season.

As if the SF 49ers‘ 2020 season hasn’t been tough enough, this coming offseason will present its own set of challenges.

With a dwindling salary cap due to the pandemic, dropping as potentially low as $175 million, and a slew of players set to hit free agency, re-signing veteran cornerback Richard Sherman would be a mistake.

As incredible a capologist as the Niners Vice President of Player Personnel Paraag Marathe is, the havoc the pandemic will wreak on the team’s ability to retain and sign players this offseason will be perhaps the greatest challenge he has faced in his time with the team. Currently, Over the Cap has the team projected at $156.5 million in cap liability for players in 2021. With the salary cap being squeezed down next year, the SF49ers face some tough cuts.

And they’ll face the likelihood of losing Sherman to NFL free agency, too.

When the team signed Sherman after the 2017 season, it was a three-year, $27.15 million contract, including a $3 million signing bonus, $7 million guaranteed, and an average annual salary of $9.05 million. Sherman, to his credit, played well when he was healthy.

In fact, he was Pro Football Focus’ top-rated cornerback in 2019, allowing just 27 receptions in 15 games, while hauling in three interceptions to boot. His veteran leadership has also been invaluable for some of the younger players in the SF 49ers defensive backfield.

Yet at the end of the day, money will play a huge part in the decision.

Sherman even hinted at the reality of the situation to NBC Sports Bay Area’s Matt Maiocco, saying, “I’ve enjoyed my time. I’ve loved every moment of it. And I wish we could continue it for a couple more years, but it’s not looking likely.”

Sherman has played only three games this season, too, set back by a calf injury. In Week 13 against the Buffalo Bills’ vaunted passing attack, the veteran looked awfully slow in coverage and was more a liability than a boon to San Francisco’s defense.

Why SF 49ers re-signing Richard Sherman won’t help

Even if the team restructures some contracts and lets other players go, such as EDGE Dee Ford, defensive end Solomon Thomas, and cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon, among others, Sherman would still command a minimum of $7 million to $9 million per year. That hit would just be too much for the Niners’ cap and an expensive risk for a player on the downside of his career and coming off two major injuries in the last four seasons.

Instead, the Niners could re-sign restricted free agent Emmanuel Moseley to a mid-level deal while also offering Jason Verrett a team-friendly deal if he is willing. Verrett is having a solid season after struggling with injuries during the last five years. And while he would be a risk as well, Verrett’s performance this year shows he has plenty left in the tank, provided he can stay healthy.

Add to that the fact he is three years younger than Sherman, and there is some logic to the move.

The team would be able to potentially lock up their starting corners, and draft one or more as well. Perhaps South Carolina’s Jaycee Horn, Miami’s Patrick Surtain II, Ohio State’s Shaun Wade, or Caleb Farley of Virginia Tech, to name a few.

Although head coach Kyle Shanahan recently stated he’d like to have Sherman back next season, Sherman recognized the reality in his conversation with Maiocco:

"That’s the sad, sad truth. It’s one of those years where it’s not from anybody’s fault that it may not work out. And it will be a sad parting because I’ve really enjoyed my time here. I’ve enjoyed this team. I have brothers on this team, and I think we still have work to do. But I don’t know that the circumstances will allow it."

In the NFL, teams who are capable of keeping their championship window open for longer periods of time inevitably have difficult decisions to make regarding the roster.

While most teams would love to have a strong, productive, veteran presence on their roster to solidify a position and mentor younger players, the reality is that it is a luxury in the salary cap era.

Next. 5 Niners who could be surprise cuts this offseason. dark

Moving on from a player like Sherman will be a tough decision for the SF 49ers brass, but it is the right one to make in order to keep their championship window open.