Inside the Panthers

Should Panthers be players in Richard Sherman sweepstakes? Weighing pros and cons

Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman is being released by the team, but probably isn’t done in the NFL.
Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman is being released by the team, but probably isn’t done in the NFL. AP

Add cornerback to the Carolina Panthers’ list of offseason needs following Friday’s news that they’re trading third-year CB Daryl Worley to the Philadelphia Eagles for wideout Torrey Smith.

It just so happened the news of the Worley trade came shortly after reports that a lockdown corner is hitting the market.

With Seattle set to release Richard Sherman on Friday in a move that will save the Seahawks $11 million in cash and cap space, it’s worth asking: Should the Panthers consider signing the four-time Pro Bowler?

Thomas Davis may have provided a clue to how he feels when the Panthers’ veteran linebacker posted a picture on Instagram of him and Sherman together on Friday.

 

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A quick look at the pros and cons of Sherman in a Panthers uniform:

Why he makes sense

▪  Bringing in a player of Sherman’s stature would send a strong message that the Panthers want to reach another Super Bowl in the final season for Davis and center Ryan Kalil, both of whom have said they will retire after 2018.

▪  It also might convince defensive end Julius Peppers, who’s weighing his future, to decide to play another season.

▪  Sherman will turn 30 this month, but he’s still playing at a high level. Since 2011, no player has more interceptions (32) or passes defensed (99) than Sherman, according to NFL Research. Also, no player who’s been targeted 300-plus times over that span has allowed a lower completion percentage (47.4) or passer rating (50.9).

▪  Third-year corner James Bradberry would benefit from having a player and leader of Sherman’s caliber on the roster. A top-tier cover corner also would help the Panthers’ pass rush and the entire defense (see the Josh Norman effect in 2015).

Why he doesn’t

▪  Sherman is coming off season-ending Achilles surgery and also recently underwent a cleanup on his other Achilles. He’s expected to resume running in April or May. But some players, including former Panthers defenders Jon Beason and Charles Godfrey, needed two seasons before they returned to their pre-Achilles surgery form. Others never regained their full speed or explosiveness.

▪  Spending big on Sherman would leave the Panthers, who will be about $19 million below the cap when the Smith trade is official, with fewer resources to allocate toward the high-need positions of safety, edge rusher and receiver (still).

▪  Sherman isn’t necessarily done in Seattle. He told SI.com’s Albert Breer the Seahawks “wanted the financial flexibility going into free agency but expressed that they wanted me to return and will be in contact.”

▪  Sherman told the NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero he was looking for a team that has a “great quarterback” and a place he will be comfortable. That could mean Carolina and Cam Newton. It also could mean New England and Tom Brady, and a number of other potential landing spots.

Joseph Person: 704-358-5123, @josephperson

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