Sunday marks the first time Richard Sherman will play a game in Seattle since the Seahawks, his former team of seven seasons, waived him last offseason while he was recovering from an Achilles injury.
Sherman stuck it to the supposedly rebuilding ‘Hawks by taking his talents to San Francisco and hooking up with Seattle’s biggest rival in the NFC West.
In a news conference Thursday ahead of his return to Seattle, Sherman expressed that there are still hard feelings surrounding his Emerald City exit.
“You just expect that after you’ve done so much for a franchise that they wouldn’t cut you while you’re hurt,” Sherman said. “It’s kind of more of a respect thing than anything. But they did. So you’ve kind of got to roll with the business.”
Sherman was the face — and voice — of the Legion of Boom defense that led the Seahawks to their first Super Bowl title and terrorized offenses for the first half of this decade. The cornerback made four Pro Bowls and was named to the All-Pro team three times while in Seattle.
The Niners cornerback wasn’t alone in his criticism of general manager John Schneider and the Seahawks front office for their handling of his release. Critical calls were also coming from inside the house.
“I thought it was really s—-y, to be honest with you, how it ended,” Seahawks receiver and Sherman’s teammate of seven years Doug Baldwin told reporters Thursday. “I would really have liked for him to stay here, and have an opportunity to finish his career with this organization. But it’s part of the business. Doesn’t work out that way.”
Asked if he thought Sherman should still be in the building in Seattle, Baldwin said, “Do I think he could be here? Yes, I think he could be here. But, again, I’m not the GM. I’m not the head coach. I’m not the owner. That’s above my pay grade.”
Sherman and Baldwin both entered the league in 2011 and signed massive contract extensions with the team during Seattle’s era of good feelings. But while Baldwin was signed with the Seahawks through 2020, Sherman was only signed through 2018 and was cut by Seattle this offseason with just $2.2 million in dead money to his name. He signed a three-year, $27.2 million deal to join the Niners.
Sherman also made somewhat course comments about his former signal-caller. When pressed by reporters about how his knowledge of Russell Wilson‘s game could help the underdog Niners on Sunday, Sherman countered that he knows both sides of the Pro Bowl quarterback.
“I’ve also seen him throw five picks in a game,” Sherman responded. “So you see what he’s capable of on both sides of it. You understand that he can be defended.” The cornerback added, “I don’t really have a relationship with Russell. We were teammates. We played through a very special time for the franchise.”
That special time is over, and nine months after Sherman’s departure, it’s unclear that the cornerback won the divorce. Sherman is the most dominant defensive player on a 2-9 Niners team hamstrung by the absence of its franchise quarterback, Jimmy Garoppolo. Wilson’s Seahawks have “rebuilt” quicker than expected and enter Week 13 in the middle of the playoff hunt at 6-5 and with a steadily improving young secondary.
Sherman’s not buying Seattle’s bounce-back season.
“They’re 6-5,” Sherman said. “It’s not like they’re 8-1 or 12-1. If they were that, I’d be surprised. But kind of middle of the road. They’re fighting in every game.”
Sherman also defended his comments from this offseason that Seattle’s front office has lost its ability to evaluate talent.
“If you just look at the draft classes we had early on and the draft classes they have had in the last three, four, five years: The truth is the truth,” Sherman said. “I don’t have to make stuff up. People can take it how they want to. It’s unfortunate that things have gone the way they have.”
Tune in Sunday afternoon for the last word.