Richard Sherman is on the trade block. But if the New Orleans Saints trade for him, they can kiss their 2017 hopes goodbye.
Amid reports that the Saints are in trade talks with the Patriots for Malcolm Butler, some fans and media outlets have linked the Saints to the Seahawks’ Richard Sherman. Some oddsmakers have even ranked New Orleans as the team most likely to have Sherman on their roster come Week 1.
On the one hand, I understand the link. Sean Payton and the Saints like veteran players and have a very young group in their secondary. They’ve been very adamant about adding a CB in free agency or the draft. Trade talks with the Patriots have stalled as Butler still hasn’t signed his tender. Sherman has been one of the top cornerbacks in the league over the past few years, and Sean Payton has long been trying to build his own version of Seattle’s defense in New Orleans.
But on the other hand, man on man do I not see the fit.
Disregard the fact that Butler is still on the table. Let’s just take a look at Sherman.
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First of all, why is Sherman on the trade block? Because he’s set to fall off a cliff. It already happened a bit last year, as Sherman struggled with athletic receivers and in particular with in-breaking routes. He’s still got some of the best technique and awareness in the league, and that won’t end with age. Keep a route to the outside and Sherman can lock it up. But he’s lost a step and that’s costing him on routes to the middle of the field.
I’m not sure how Saints fans don’t realize this themselves: after losing to the Seahawks countless times throughout Payton’s tenure, the Saints pulled one out against Seattle in 2016. If you recall, Michael Thomas absolutely TORCHED Sherman. And yes, I know, we’re all uberhyped about Thomas. Don’t get me wrong, I still think he’s a stud. But that game was an example of where Sherman’s career is headed. That’s why he’s on the trading block. He’s not the player he was in 2015, and he’ll be even further removed from that in 2017.
On top of that, although Payton has been trying to emulate the Seahawks model for years, Dennis Allen seems to have his own plans. His defense plays more zone coverage. Our cornerbacks don’t stick to one side of the field. Sherman was once a versatile player, but he’s not that any longer.
And now let’s consider that Malcolm Butler is still very much in play.
I get that some fans don’t see that Butler is an elite player. And there’s no denying that one or two years ago Sherman was near the top of the league at his position. For fans that want to “win now,” Sherman seems like the obvious option.
To that argument, I would simply say that Butler is at this point better than Sherman, and will be much better in the foreseeable future. A popular argument against Butler is that the Saints shouldn’t make splash signings: fans don’t want a repeat of Jairus Byrd, of C.J. Spiller, of *shudder* Brandon Browner. Well, in my opinion, Sherman would be the next Browner. Not Butler. Pass.
The other argument that I’ve heard against Butler is that this is a deep CB draft class, and the Saints could find a player for much cheaper than what it would take to sign Butler. They’d secure a future piece who could be a fixture on their defense for years. I have more sympathy for this argument.
Still, I’d say the Saints ARE in “win now” mode. And in that mode, you want the proven vet. So long as they have gas left in the tank. A 32nd round pick at CB could easily turn into a bonafide starter. In fact, statistics probably back up that likelihood. But Butler already is a starter. An elite one. He would transform the makeup of this defensive roster and propel them into relevancy. Immediately. With a 38-year-old Drew Brees, I’m not sure there’s a more ideal situation.
So I’ll pass on Richard Sherman.