The Seahawks received only a warning from the NFL and won’t lose a draft pick for failing to disclose a knee injury that cornerback Richard Sherman played through last season, a source confirmed.
Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network first reported as much on Tuesday. It confirms what seemed like a likely verdict after another NFL Network report from earlier this month stated that the Seahawks weren’t expected to be punished heavily, if at all, after the league looked into the situation.
Violation deemed to result from misinterpretation of rules (Sherman practiced fully.) If future violation, this one will be taken into acct.
— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) February 14, 2017
It all stemmed from Seahawks coach Pete Carroll revealing to 710 ESPN Seattle’s “Brock and Salk” two days after the team’s playoff loss to Atlanta that Sherman dealt with an MCL injury during the second half of the season, using the words “significant” and “legit” to describe its severity. Carroll said later that day that he didn’t realize the team never noted Sherman’s knee injury on its practice reports – which is required by the NFL – and said the injury never forced him to miss “anything,” i.e., games or practices.
Sherman was regularly given a day off in practice each week beginning after the team’s overtime game in Arizona in Week 7, when he played 99 snaps and needed medical attention in the locker room afterward. His absences in practice were listed as not injury-related, a designation teams often use for veteran players who get days off merely for rest as opposed to a specific injury. Sherman missed one practice in Week 12 for what was listed as an ankle injury, but the team’s practice reports never cited his knee.
The Seahawks contended that they didn’t feel obligated to list Sherman’s knee injury because it never threatened or impacted his availability for games. Indeed, Sherman didn’t miss a game or so much as any meaningful game snaps. He also played in the Pro Bowl.
The NFL’s Injury Report Policy, though, states in part that “All players who have significant or noteworthy injuries must be listed on the Practice Report, even if the player takes all the reps in practice, and even if the team is certain that he will play in the upcoming game.” So the NFL could have still deemed the Seahawks to be in violation even if Sherman didn’t miss any time because of his knee injury.
The policy’s nebulous wording about which injures must be disclosed – those that are “significant or noteworthy” – may have worked in the Seahawks’ favor. They could have argued to the NFL – and presumably did – that Sherman’s knee injury was neither, even if that contradicted how Carroll initially characterized it. They made that argument publicly, with Sherman saying his knee injury “wasn’t that serious” and general manager John Schneider using the term “bumps and bruises” to describe it.
A report from ESPN’s Chris Mortensen days after Carroll’s revelation stated that the NFL was considering docking the Seahawks their 2017 second-round pick for not disclosing Sherman’s injury. That second-rounder, according to Mortensen, would have been a stiffening of the punishment the NFL handed down to the Seahawks in September for their latest violation of offseason practice rules, which was the forfeiture of their fifth-round pick.
So with the league not punishing Seattle over the Sherman situation, the team will still be without that fifth-round pick but won’t lose any others.