I don’t want to freak anyone out — this may have already happened the moment you read the headline — but we might as well address this. NFL analyst Michael Lombardi, a former general manager and longtime personnel executive who now works for The Ringer, was on The Ringer NFL Show podcast on Thursday. The opening discussion was about the New Orleans Saints and their ongoing attempt to get star New England Patriots defensive back Malcolm Butler, who is a restricted free agent.
At about the 2:40 mark of the show, after delivering his point of view that the Saints are stocking up on draft picks to rebuild their terrible defense, Lombardi brings in a hypothetical scenario in which the Saints trade for Richard Sherman. Here’s the full quote, which includes his belief that Seattle would be willing to give up its shutdown cornerback.
“For the Saints, if they were to call the Seattle Seahawks and say, ‘Look, we would be interested in obtaining Richard Sherman, would you be willing to do it?’ I truly believe, based on what I hear around the National Football League, that the Seahawks would in fact, for the right deal, trade Richard Sherman. He has two years left [on his contract] at around $11 million a year. He’s two years older than Malcolm Butler, and that’s all he is. He would come in and fix their defense in a style that they want to play. They want to emulate the Seattle defense in New Orleans. So could that be a trade that they make? To me, that’s an option. I’m not saying that they’re going to do that, but that would be an option.”
Bold emphasis is mine.
I want to emphasize that Lombardi is the only one who has said this, and I’ve seen no other reporters actually entertain that Sherman getting traded is in the cards. NFL insider Benjamin Allbright added that the team was just willing to listen to offers, as opposed to Seattle putting Sherm on the trading block.
I was told the #Seahawks are not "trying" to trade Richard Sherman, merely willing to listen to offers, as any team is on any player.— Benjamin Allbright (@AllbrightNFL) March 17, 2017
Lombardi is playing the hearsay game and added nothing more. He doesn’t let on that it has to do with sideline spats, the Jim Moore controversy, terrible beef jerky, none of that. The implication seems to be that Sherman’s big contract is something that Seattle could offload it to a team in need of defensive help, and willing to give up a lot to the Seahawks in the process. This would further worsen the Seahawks CB situation unless they traded for another elite CB (one likely not to be as good as Richard Sherman).
Here’s my deep analysis of this completely hypothetical situation: