Time and Money in the Case of Richard Sherman

Bears have a cornerback need but probably not the kind a player like Richard Sherman can fill, unless he's playing for a bargain rate and suddenly discovers the NFL fountain of youth.
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It looks like a match, except for two very important facts.

Veteran cornerback Richard Sherman is available and the Bears still have a need for possible cornerback help. However, Sherman still thinks of himself as a top performer who wants good money while the Chicago Bears have very little cash available under the salary cap.

The Bears failed to bring in Bashaud Breeland in free agency and he's signed with Minnesota, and they still have to have concerns about finding a left cornerback after losing Kyle Fuller in a cost-cutting measure.

The answer apparently is Desmond Trufant, and to his credit the former Falcons Pro Bowl cornerback has been among those volunteering their work at organized team activities even while starting defensive players would not.

The best way to show you belong when the full team is together is to be on top of your game, and Trufant is making every effort. After last year, though, there will be lingering questions whether he can actually do it because hamstring issues are problems any cornerback cannot afford. This is especially the case with cornerbacks in their 30s after they have lost some of their speed.

So, bringing in a bonafide veteran presence to help solidify the cornerback spot wouldn't be a bad thing—especially when they also have no veteran presence at the slot cornerback position.

When last the Bears saw Sherman, he was trying to fight them. This was in 2018 as the Bears were rolling to the NFC North title and San Francisco was on the way to a 4-12 season, one of three double-digit loss seasons they've had in the four since the great Kyle Shanahan and GM John Lynch started teaming up. Sherman came to the aid of a teammate, who had initiated a fight.

Most modern observers of football would say Sherman carries Pro Football Hall of Fame credentials, although based on statistics alone they currently come up well behind former Bears cornerback Charles Tillman: Tillman 38 interceptions, 140 passes defended and 44 fumbles forced to Sherman's 36 interceptions 116 passes defended and five fumbles forced. Sherman has an edge team-wise with a Lombardi Trophy and two lost Super Bowls, while Tillman had just one lost Super Bowl.

The issue here isn't whether Sherman should be in the hall of fame but whether he should be in Bears camp.

The answer is as unclear as to what a 33-year-old cornerback should be paid.

Patrick Peterson is being paid $10 million by the Vikings at age 31 this year for his move from the Cardinals. Sherman has been a better cornerback than Peterson.

However, those two extra years make a difference and the Vikings also may have overpaid greatly for Peterson to the extent some have called it the worst contract in free agency this year.

Spotrac.com makes projections for player contracts and estimates Sherman's market value at $9.9 million. The Bears would offer a thank you for listening and shut the door before the world million finished coming out of the agent's mouth. They can't afford it under any circumstances, with less than $5 million available now after they get second-round pick Teven Jenkins signed.

Beyond the cost, you really have to wonder if Sherman has anything left. Seattle has money available and talked about interest in bringing him back earlier this offseason and didn't do it. 

Those extra two years after Peterson's age call a good deal into question.

Last year Sherman played only five games due to a calf injury, the kind of thing older cornerbacks seem to get. 

When he played, he was awful. He had a 116.2 passer rating against when targeted and allowed 72.4% completions (23 completions, 29 targets). He also allowed four touchdown passes. It was far worse than the 62.3% completions in 2019 and 61.5% in 2018 he allowed, or the passer ratings of 63.0 in 2019 and 92.6 in 2018. He gave up one TD pass in each of those seasons.

Sherman barely got in half a season in 2017 during his last season with Seattle, due to an Achilles injury.

If not Sherman, there are other less desirable options out there for the Bears. Pittsburgh's Steven Nelson is 28 but was almost always a right cornerback and not the one in question with the Bears. Sherman has played the left side his entire career.

Brian Poole is 29 and not even a true outside cornerback. Nickell Robey-Coleman is a slot cornerback. The pickings are slim now on the outside, and Breeland might have been the last true opportunity to give veteran camp competition to Trufant.

Time drags down all players. When Tillman tried playing at 33 in 2013 for the Bears, it started a three-year run when he could start only 22 NFL games as a result of injuries. Then he was done.

Paying $10 million or anything close for Richard Sherman at age 33 is the kind of thing only a team with plenty of cap space and an extremely large hole in the lineup can afford.

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