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Why have the Seahawks been open about a possible Richard Sherman trade? Because he’s asked for one

The Seahawks released veteran CB Richard Sherman this March. (AP)
LISTEN: Albert Breer on the Seahawks' situation with Richard Sherman

The unusual candor with which the Seahawks have spoken publicly about a possible Richard Sherman trade makes sense.

It’s because he’s asked for one.

Those dots could have been connected after a week in which Pete Carroll and John Schneider curiously acknowledged on separate occasions that they’ve discussed with interested teams a trade involving Seattle’s All-Pro cornerback. It was exceedingly rare transparency given how NFL coaches and general managers are usually tight-lipped even with relatively inconsequential personnel matters and always so with those involving a potential trade of a star player like Sherman.

The only logical explanation for why the Seahawks have been so forthcoming about the situation is that Sherman wants out. Or at least that he’s asked out.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter confirmed that to be the case.

“Richard Sherman was the one that initiated this,” Schefter said on “SportsCenter” Thursday. “He was the one that wanted to be traded initially. The Seahawks were obliging him and his requests.”

This explains a lot.

Last week on “Brock and Salk,” I wondered aloud why the Seahawks would readily admit that they’ve looked into trading Sherman, which Carroll and Schneider did from the owners’ meetings. It’s one thing to publicly put a younger, lesser established player on notice with the intention of lighting a fire under his rear or setting him straight. That’s not entirely uncommon, but even that hasn’t really been Carroll’s or Schneider’s style.

O’Neil: Keeping Sherman could be more costly than trading him

That’s why it was so striking when they made it known – repeatedly – that they’re open for business with Sherman after his tumultuous season, with Carroll calling many of the issues the cornerback dealt with in 2017 “self-inflicted.” If the Seahawks were trying to send a message, I thought, there’s a big risk that Sherman, as headstrong as he is, won’t receive it all that well.

This, after all, is a player who doubled and tripled down on his public criticism of the offense’s play-calling after berating a coach on the sideline for the second time in the same season. Imagine how he’d handle the perceived disrespect of the team planting a for-sale sign in front of him considering all he’s meant to the organization and his status as one of the game’s top players.

Unless that’s what he’s wanted all along.

It’s become clear that he has, despite what his brother told earlier this week about Sherman not wanting to “leave behind that brotherhood.” That was similar to what Sherman told Gee Scott last week, when he added that he understands “it’s a business and organizational philosophies change.”

Neither was a categorical assertion that he doesn’t want out. Both left the impression that he’d be alright with it.

Less clear is why.

If Sherman wants out because he feels his relationship with the Seahawks has been damaged beyond repair, what does he think would happen if he ended up with another team that doesn’t give its players as much freedom to express themselves as Seattle does? Not many other teams, if any, would tolerate what the Seahawks have tolerated from Sherman.

If he isn’t happy with the direction of the organization, what’s the guarantee he ends up in a better situation? Of the few NFL teams that are as well- or better-positioned to win the Super Bowl as Seattle, how many have both the draft capital to meet the Seahawks’ asking price and the cap space to absorb his contract, which has a remaining balance of $22.431 million in salary over its final two years?

Clayton: While the talks are real, trading Sherman wouldn’t be easy

As for Seattle’s asking price, Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network reported that it could be a first-round pick, or a “very good player” on a cost-controlled contract plus a pick. That’s not cheap, nor should it be. The Seahawks aren’t going to give away Sherman when he’s still in his prime, perhaps on the back end of it at 29, and continued to play at an elite level last season. Especially not when they already have to replace one starting cornerback in DeShawn Shead, at least for the start of next season as he comes off a torn ACL.

That’s why there’s no guarantee that they will end up dealing Sherman. The two sides could conceivably iron things out if the Seahawks made a good-faith effort to make an equitable trade but were unable to, or if Sherman finds that the list of potential teams doesn’t include any that would be as appealing as his current one.

Sherman has asked for a trade. Where would he be willing to go in order to make one happen?