Speculation swirling around Richard Sherman's future in Seattle, but Seahawks say nothing official yet

Bob Condotta, The Seattle Times on

Published in Football

SEATTLE -- A few social-media posts Wednesday led to a frenzy of speculation about the future of Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman, including a note on Facebook from Sherman's mother, Beverly, in which she said she was sad that her son "will no longer be a Seahawk."

But while Sherman could well be released in coming days -- by the end of Wednesday the conventional wisdom held that that was the most likely outcome with Michael Silver of the NFL Network saying he will be released "sometime in the next two days" -- the team had nothing to announce throughout the day.

Still, it also became increasingly clear by the end of the day that one of the franchise's most iconic players may well have played his final game in Seattle.

Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network reported Wednesday afternoon, and the Seattle Times confirmed, that Sherman -- who is acting as his own agent -- had met with Seattle coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider to discuss his future with each side understanding that Sherman's days with the Seahawks may be over.

The issue apparently is that the team would like Sherman to agree to a new contract that would include a pay cut from the $11 million he is scheduled to receive in 2018, the final season of a four-year deal he signed with Seattle in the spring of 2014.

The team's thinking is based in part on the uncertainty over what kind of player Sherman will be in 2018 after having suffered an Achilles tendon injury on Nov. 9 at Arizona -- he also turns 30 on March 20.

Sherman, though, apparently wants no part of a pay cut -- at least in Seattle -- and may well prefer to be released and then get to choose where he plays next. It's thought the Seahawks would take Sherman back at a lower salary but that if he has to take less, Sherman likely would want to do that somewhere else.

If Sherman is traded or released, the Seahawks would save $11 million against the salary cap in 2018.

Seattle would obviously prefer to trade Sherman and at least get something for him. But his injury could make that problematic, as well as the fact that teams now know that the Seahawks may well just release him in a few days.

Contacted by The Seattle Times, Sherman -- expected to attend NFL Players Association meetings beginning Thursday -- said he had no comment.

While it's unclear when something will become official with Sherman a decision will almost certainly be made by the time the new league year begins on March 14.

Seattle cornerback Jeremy Lane kicked off the intrigue Wednesday morning with a tweet stating: "That text message got my heart hurting ... damn 25 was my Dawg #WhatsNext"

Sherman wears number 25 for the Seahawks and the tweet indicated that Lane had been told Sherman was no longer with the team. Seahawks strong safety Kam Chancellor also posted what could be viewed as a tribute to Sherman, stating "'Chancellor of Operations' Thanks for the name" and tweeting at Sherman.

ESPN's Josina Anderson, though, quoted Sherman as saying: "I'm good. Not sure what that's about (referring to Lane's tweet )... Haven't been told anything,"

That Sherman has apparently been told he could be released if an agreement that includes a pay cut is not reached, though, could be the impetus for the comments of Lane and some of his other teammates, Sherman possibly having told some of them what could happen.

The news of Sherman's Seattle career potentially being over broke just a few minutes before it was revealed that the team had traded defensive lineman Michael Bennett to the Eagles.

The potential departure of two of the team's best defensive players and most dynamic personalities serves as the biggest signal yet that the Seahawks are willing to vastly reconstruct their team after a disappointing 9-7 season in 2017.

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Schneider said Friday at the NFL combine in Indianapolis that the team has no untouchables, a comment that came with the team heavily rumored to undergo a significant makeover this offseason as it attempts to right the ship following what was its first season without a playoff berth since 2011.

Sherman's future has been uncertain since a year ago when the team acknowledged it would consider trading him. He had a rocky 2016 season that included two on-field blowups at coaches and for a while deciding he would not speak to local reporters (he later rescinded that and talked to all reporters throughout the 2017 season).

Sherman also suffered the first significant injury of his career last year, tearing his right Achilles tendon against Arizona on Nov. 9 and ending his season, snapping a streak of 99 consecutive regular-season starts.

Sherman had surgery shortly after and had a surgery on his left Achilles last month to clean up bone spurs, a relatively minor procedure.

Sherman said at the Seattle Sports Club awards last month that he anticipated being ready for the 2018 season and said he actually thought he could be 100 percent by the time mini-camp rolls around in June.

At that time, Sherman said he didn't think his health issues should change anything in how he negotiated a new deal with the Seahawks.

"Honestly, I'm not sure on their side of things," he said. "It doesn't change anything in my mind. If we have the talks, we do. If we don't, we don't -- it is what it is. I'm planning on playing five or six more years whether it's here or somewhere else."

On that same night, Sherman spoke philosophically of what he had learned in his seven years in the NFL.

"You learn it's a business," he said. "You come here, you do your job effectively or they will find someone else who can do the job effectively."

Sherman has been regarded as one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL since coming to Seattle as a fifth-round pick out of Stanford in 2011, with many around the team often pointing to the true beginning of the Legion of Boom as the day Sherman moved into the starting lineup in a game against Cincinnati in the seventh week of the 2011 season.

He had started every game since until limping off the field at Arizona, a game in which Chancellor also suffered a neck/nerve injury that ended his season.

Suddenly, it appears there's a chance that night also marked the end of each player's Seattle careers.

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