SEATTLE – Richard Sherman was in Las Vegas on Thursday attending NFL Players Association meetings and – according to a few pictures on social media, anyway – trying his luck at a craps table.
And the odds are likely that Sherman soon will be an ex-Seahawk.
Seattle did not make any transaction involving Sherman on Thursday. Yet, barring something unexpected, the Seahawks are likely to release the star cornerback Friday, bringing to an end the Seattle career of one of the most iconic players in team history, if not all of Seattle sports.
The Seahawks have explored trade options for Sherman, but nothing materialized, leaving them poised instead to release Sherman ahead of the beginning of the new league year Wednesday.
Sherman hasn’t attracted much of a trade market because teams know he is likely to be released, he has an $11 million salary and is recovering from a season-ending Achilles tendon injury suffered in November. There’s also a thought Sherman would prefer to be released so he can choose his next team.
Because Sherman is a vested veteran, his contract would be terminated and he would immediately become a free agent.
The Seahawks would be open to re-signing Sherman at a lower salary than the $11 million he is due in 2018. But Sherman is not thought to be eager to return to Seattle at a lower salary and would rather move on with the opportunity to choose his own team. Seattle was more than happy to keep Sherman but wanted to negotiate a contract that would include a pay cut for 2018. But Sherman balked at that, leading to the team’s expected decision to release him.
Releasing Sherman would save the Seahawks $11 million in salary-cap room for 2018. And doing it by the weekend would give Sherman, who is acting as his own agent, a head start on finding a new team ahead of the beginning of the new league year, when players whose contracts run out will officially become free agents.
If Sherman is unable to play again, the Seahawks also would be on the hook for an additional $1.15 million in an injury protection payout, the same as could also be the case with defensive end Cliff Avril if the Seahawks release him and he cannot play again.
But that’s unlikely with Sherman intending to continue to play, meaning Seattle would save $11 million, while taking a $2.2 million dead cap hit.
Releasing Sherman is one of just a handful of moves the team has made or appears on the verge of making as it clears cap space on the eve of free agency.
Seattle is also expected to soon release cornerback Jeremy Lane, which would save $4.75 million against the cap.
Combined with the trade of Michael Bennett, which saves $2.2 million, and what also could be the release of Avril (which would save about $6.4 million with the injury guarantee factored in) Seattle would be creating roughly $24 million additional in cap room.
Seattle is listed as having roughly $13 million as of Thursday morning but could have about $37 million with all of those moves.
What the Seahawks plan to do with the money is unclear.
Seattle has had veteran linebacker Brian Cushing and running back Jonathan Stewart in for visits the past two days. But both would almost certainly be one-year contracts for at or close to the veteran minimum if they sign.
The Seahawks could be saving up to try to re-sign defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson, who the team declined to place a franchise tag on at $13.9 million this week, meaning he can become a free agent Wednesday.
But in what is a weak crop of free-agent defensive linemen the general thought is that Richardson wants to hit the open market before committing anywhere.
Seattle also could be creating space to extend the contract of left tackle Duane Brown, who was acquired in October and whose deal runs out following the 2018 season. Brown, 32, is due $9.75 million in 2018.
And Seattle also could be creating some flexibility to extend the contract of free safety Earl Thomas. The Seahawks appear likely to keep Thomas rather than trade him but know they’ll have to give him a contract that could approach $14 million a year. He is entering the final year of a contract that pays him $10 million a season.
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