Predicting Landing Spots for Richard Sherman Late in 2021 NFL Free-Agency Period

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistMarch 26, 2021

Predicting Landing Spots for Richard Sherman Late in 2021 NFL Free-Agency Period

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    Michael Ainsworth/Associated Press

    Richard Sherman might be the best NFL free agent left. 

    Sherman, heading into his age-33 season, only made it into five games last year but still picked off a pass on 14 targets, per Pro Football Focus. The year prior, over 15 games, he netted an 88.9 PFF grade, surrendering 27 catches on 51 targets and grabbing three interceptions. 

    Pessimistic about a return to San Francisco since December, Sherman looks ready to change teams for only the second time since he entered the league in 2011. 

    The best fits for the veteran cornerback boast plenty of playing time, the cap room to make it work, and make sense for schematic or personnel reasons. With many free-agent cornerbacks already landing new deals and spots across the league filled, a handful of likely destinations remain for Sherman.      

Las Vegas Raiders

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    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    Sherman just seems like a Jon Gruden signing, right? 

    Gruden has a penchant for acquiring big names (remember Antonio Brown?), and even after getting free-agency wins like Yannick Ngakoue this year, he has $18.9 million burning a hole in his pocket. That, plus a defense from last year that let up 263.3 passing yards per game, the seventh-worst number in the league. 

    It even goes a little deeper than that. Gus Bradley is the new Raiders defensive coordinator, and Sherman was wildly successful under him in Seattle. The schemes he'll employ will have the veteran feeling right at home. 

    While one could argue cornerback isn't a primary need for the Raiders, if Sherman is interested in the move, the team would be silly not to upgrade the rotation, working in with guys like Trayvon Mullen and Amik Robertson. 

New York Jets

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    Jennifer Stewart/Associated Press

    The New York Jets need help across the board, so Sherman would be a welcome addition. 

    Those Jets have the fourth-most cap space at $31.6 million, meaning the front office is in a position to overpay to massage any potential concerns Sherman might have about not finishing his career with a contender. He'd also get credit for improving a defense that coughed up a bottom-five number in average passing yards allowed per game last year (275.6). 

    There is a massive potential connection Sherman might like too: Former 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh is the new Jets head coach and will employ schemes that have gotten the best out of the veteran. 

    It sure doesn't hurt that corner is one of the bigger needs on the Jets, and Sherman would free up premium draft spots to address other areas of the rebuild.

New Orleans Saints

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    Butch Dill/Associated Press

    Kris Richard is annually one of the biggest names on possible head-coaching lists in large part because of his work with cornerbacks. 

    Cornerbacks like Sherman, who helped form the Legion of Boom while Richard worked his way from assistant defensive backs coach to coordinator from 2010 to 2017 in Seattle. 

    Could Richard, now the defensive backs coach for the New Orleans Saints, lure Sherman to Louisiana? The team went from a crushing cap deficit to sitting just $1.5 million over the cap, so more creativity like restructures figures to create wiggle room. 

    The Saints quietly had a strong defense last year, ranking fourth in yards allowed, but a cheap deal with Sherman to pair him with Marshon Lattimore wouldn't be anything to complain about, especially in the pass-happy NFC South. 

Indianapolis Colts

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    Zach Bolinger/Associated Press

    The Indianapolis Colts often came up as a top name for most big free agents because of the sheer wealth of cap space the team enjoyed compared to the rest of the league. 

    True to form, though, the Colts remained mostly conservative by avoiding the big buy and mostly focusing on their own free agents. 

    At this stage of his career, Sherman probably doesn't classify as a "big buy"—and the team has $41.5 million in cap space, the second-highest number in the league, anyway. The Colts have a need, too, after allowing 241.6 passing yards per game on average (20th) and Rock Ya-Sin received a 49.9 PFF grade. 

    Put Sherman in the same secondary as the recently re-signed Xavier Rhodes, though, and the arrow points up for all involved. 

Seattle Seahawks

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    Tony Avelar/Associated Press

    A reunion would make for a fun story. 

    Sherman last played in Seattle in 2017, going out strong with a 77.1 PFF grade and two interceptions over nine games. 

    Much has changed since then, of course. Names like Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor are gone, and so is top corner Shaquill Griffin via free agency. Seattle has less than $1 million in cap space, but it could likely find the wiggle room if needed. 

    Last year, the Seahawks coughed up 285 passing yards per game on average, the second-worst mark in the league. Seattle still only allowed 23.2 points per game (15th), but it was still strange to see Sherman's old team struggle in defending the pass. 

    Sherman could do worse as far as signing with a contender goes, as he'd join a secondary that features Jamal Adams in comfy surroundings and close out his career with a must-see comeback arc.


    Salary-cap info via Spotrac