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Richard Sherman to Seattle would be like Darrelle Revis to Kansas City: Complicated

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Daily News back page SUPER SUNDAE Sorry, sherman, Rex says Revis is cream of crop Photo By: /NY Daily News via Getty Images

Yet another “update” in the ongoing (and unlikely to materialize) reunion between Richard Sherman and the Seattle Seahawks, which serves primarily to remind us all that Sherm — the former three time first-team All-Pro, five time Pro Bowler, and Super Bowl champion — currently remains unsigned heading into the 2021 NFL season. Sherman turned 33 in March after battling through injuries that kept him on injured reserve for the better part of last year. He ended up playing a few games during the final couple months of the seasons, although he did miss both of the Niners’ meeting with the Seahawks. This ended up being his swan song in San Francisco, as the 49ers released him from his contract on February 17th.

The former Seahawk and likely future Hall of Famer is at a tenuous position in his career; much like his Seattle teammate and similarly unsigned veteran K.J. Wright, Sherman may be facing questions surrounding his age and how much longer he can play at a high level — at least high enough to command a substantial salary. Heading into his eleventh season in the NFL, heavy questions loom large for the corner who once dubbed himself “Optimus Prime.” Can he demonstrate a return to form after an injury marred conclusion to his first decade as a pro? His performance in 2020 was far from a disaster, and Sherman has indeed maintained a high level of play throughout his entire career, thus far. But he is a full year removed from his most recent Pro Bowl and has missed time in each of the last four seasons.

If Sherman does in fact plan to play for two more years as he so claims, he will need to prove he can do so more effectively than another former perennial All-Pro and future Hall of Famer: Darrelle Revis. The player who founded “Revis Island” and helped lead a ferocious Gang Green defense to consecutive AFC Championship games was at a very similar point heading into his eleventh season. Having been released by the Jets following the 2016 season, Revis sat out the first couple months of 2017 before he eventually made his way to what would ultimately prove to be his final NFL Destination in Kansas City, where his performance on- and off-the-field was reportedly “complicated.” Following his lone season in KC, the team decided against picking up his 2018 option and Revis decided to retire. As Sherman is about to enter his eleventh season in the league, he may be facing similar obstacles. Teams clearly haven’t met his expectations, and he doesn’t seem to be overly concerned with making a hasty decision. And this is where Seattle gets pulled into the equation; every passing day that Sherman goes unsigned, the thought of him re-joining his old team seems slightly less unlikely. However, as Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times aptly points out, this is neither news nor an update, and there are a solid ten reasons why a reunion remains in the “pipe dream” category at this moment.

But whether or not a Seahawks reunion is realistic — I’m betting it’s not, and I think that’s a good bet, no matter what SportsLine says — Darrelle Revis’s singular season in Kansas City is a cautionary tale of why expecting a return to form for #25 in 2021 is unlikely to pan out.

The Stats

Richard Sherman

- GP/GS Tackles Passes Def. Int Cover snaps Rec allowed Targets Rec / Target
- GP/GS Tackles Passes Def. Int Cover snaps Rec allowed Targets Rec / Target
2018 14/14 37 (30) 4 0 532 25 40 62.50%
2019 15/15 61 (48) 11 3 552 27 51 52.94%
2020 5/5 18 (16) 1 1 210 8 14 57.14%
Total 34/48 116 (94) 16 4 1294 60 105 57.14%

Darrelle Revis

- GP/GS Tackles PD Int Cover snaps Rec allowed Targets Rec / Target
- GP/GS Tackles PD Int Cover snaps Rec allowed Targets Rec / Target
2014 16 (16) 47 (41) 14 2 650 41 79 51.90%
2015 14 (14) 39 (30) 9 5 583 40 86 46.51%
2016 15 (15) 53 (43) 5 1 545 48 72 66.67%
2017 5 (2) 11 (10) 2 0 133 9 16 56.25%
Total* 45/48 150 (124) 28 8 1778 129 237 54.43%
*2017 statistics not counted in totals

Darrelle Revis dominated at a position that has become increasingly difficult to be dominant at. Richard Sherman became an even more dominant player at the same position as it became even more difficult to do so. My Seattle fandom clearly impacts my thought process to some extent, but I think the numbers speak for themselves. According to Pro-Football Reference, Richard Sherman leads with 37 career interceptions and a career AV of 115 (Revis has 29 and 113, respectively), despite playing in fewer games overall; Revis has one more season to his name than does Sherman, along with six more total games and nine more starts. However, Revis leads in passes defended and tackles, the former of which likely wont change this season though the latter very well might, as only a handful of tackles stand between the two players.

Regardless of my opinion on what separates Richard Sherman and Darrelle Revis, a lot connects them as well, and not just the twitter feuding that has spanned near a decade now (note the date on the tweets):

Beyond these social media shenanigans, the players’ time in the NFL followed a similar trajectory, with both excelling early and often and both sustaining a phenomenal level of play throughout the better part of their respective careers. In the three seasons leading up to their eleventh year in the league, both players missed some time (Sherman, more so) while playing some pretty decent football otherwise; each had been selected to a Pro Bowl and each had received All-Pro honors (First-Team for Revis, Second- for Sherman). Both were coming off of a down season (by their standards) but were looking for significant compensation based primarily on their past performance. So how did this end up working out for Revis?

Darrelle Revis ended up parlaying his track record into a non-guaranteed, incentivized contract late in 2017 that had potential to earn up to $10M the following year if he played for Kansas City in 2018. As noted above, the team did not pick up his second year option, meaning that he essentially played for the veteran minimum in 2017 after spending the first couple months of the season as a free agent. This scenario is a likely floor for Richard Sherman, as he could opt to sit out until the right team/right situation comes along. But if history is indicative, this is not a great recipe for a stellar comeback campaign; In his lone partial season with the Chiefs, Revis had one of his worst years as a pro. In five games, he made two starts, intercepted zero passes, allowed nine completions, and generally graded poorly, according to Pro Football Focus.

Of course, all of this his doesn’t mean that Richard Sherman is guaranteed to disappoint in 2021. But any expectations that he will gracefully step back into his role as a lockdown corner should be tempered with reality; even the best players lose a step eventually, whether to injury or simply as a matter of course, and Sherman will be no exception. Unless he would offer a significant hometown discount to once again call Seattle his hometown, a reunion just doesn’t make a ton of sense for a team that retained 2020 surprise-of-the-season DJ Reed, signed Sherman’s San Francisco teammate Ahkello Witherspon, and drafted up-and-comer Tre Brown from Oklahoma in April, among a handful of other signings. Ultimately, it’s complicated, as are all things that connect the Seattle Seahawks and Richard Sherman. While many might welcome a return of one of the greatest players in team history, I would much rather they take a pass on this particular trip down memory lane and keep their eyes on the future.