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Did the Seahawks make a mistake by letting Richard Sherman go?

Matt Calkins, The Seattle Times on

Published in Football

It was a bit more than three years ago that a perturbed Richard Sherman told the media they were going to miss him once he's gone. The former Seahawks cornerback was fed up with questions about his insubordination and second-guessing of his coaches, and, however brashly, wanted to remind reporters of his uniqueness as a quote.

But as Sherman prepares for his third Super Bowl -- this time as a member of the 49ers -- it's worth wondering if his old team misses him more than any broadcaster or columnist ever could. The question of the day: Should the Seahawks have let Sherman go?

The answer never seemed like a no-brainer, but there was a point where waiving him made sense. From a physical standpoint, the Seahawks saw a player who had torn his Achilles at the age of 29. From an emotional standpoint, they saw a player who publicly criticized his coaches and taunted quarterback Russell Wilson in practice.

If there was going to be a great Seahawks purge -- one that included the retirements of Kam Chancellor and Cliff Avril, and the shipping of Michael Bennett -- it made sense to include Sherman in the liquidation. Especially if he wanted to be paid best-cornerback-in-the-league money.

But two years later, after the Seahawks finished 27th in the league in pass defense and 22nd in points allowed, that waiving doesn't look as wise. So, did parting ways with Sherman cost the Seahawks a shot at a title?

Obviously, no one can say with certainty what would have happened had Sherman stayed in Seattle. NFL outcomes are are hard enough to predict as it is.

 

Had the Seahawks gained two more inches in the final game of the regular season, the Niners might have been bounced in the first round. Had Seattle been able to stop Green Bay on a late third down, it might be in the Super Bowl.

But here's what we know: Pro Football Focus graded Sherman as the best cornerback in the NFL this season, and ranked him No. 3 last year. He was not simply a byproduct of Seahawks coach Pete Carroll's system, but a bona fide superstar.

Seattle's secondary, meanwhile, was ranked 15th in the league by Pro Football Focus, but cornerback Tre Flowers received a below-average grade. Would Sherman's presence have made a significant difference in the Seahawks' campaign?

There is an argument to be made for that. Along with pass rush, cornerback was the most vulnerable spot for Seattle all year. Shaquill Griffin was average. Flowers was less than that. And Ugo Amadi got burned by Davante Adams on third down to all but seal a Packers win in the playoffs.

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