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Most Intriguing Seahawks: No. 1, CB Richard Sherman

Richard Sherman maintained his elite level of play in 2016, writes John Clayton. (AP)
LISTEN: Most Intriguing Seahawks: No. 1, CB Richard Sherman

During each show until the start of training camp, “Brock and Salk” counted down the 20 most intriguing players on the Seahawks’ roster. The countdown ended with cornerback Richard Sherman. The segment on Sherman is embedded above. John Clayton’s thoughts are below.

Richard Sherman has been a pivotal figure in the Seahawks’ offseason.

One of the best cornerbacks in football, Sherman was discussed in trade conversations and was a central figure in a recent ESPN story about problems in the Seahawks’ locker room over the last few years.

Toward the end of minicamp in June, coach Pete Carroll and many of the team’s veteran players tried their best to put the stories behind them and concentrate on the upcoming season. Sherman has addressed the issues himself and said things are fine.

The intrigue

Sherman is a four-time Pro Bowler and has made first-team All-Pro three times. He’s one of the best cornerbacks in the game and has been a mainstay in the Legion of Boom, one of the best secondaries in the NFL. Last year was a tough one for Sherman and the Seahawks. Still upset about the Super Bowl XLIX play in which Russell Wilson threw an interception to New England’s Malcolm Butler at the goal line, Sherman screamed at Seattle’s coaches when offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell called a similar pass play in a game last December. Sherman said he never asked the Seahawks for a trade, but he raised enough conversations with Carroll and general manager John Schneider that they opened up the possibility of a trade even though they realized it wasn’t likely to happen. Sherman is too valuable to the Seahawks. DeShawn Shead is coming off a knee injury, and the Seahawks have some question marks at corner behind Sherman and Jeremy Lane. There was no way they were going to trade Sherman unless they could get a first- and a third-round pick, a price that other teams were unlikely to pay. Some wonder if the Seahawks might trade Sherman next year. The coaching staff and Sherman say he’s in a good spot. Sherman says his relationship with Wilson is professional and good. He loves Seattle and he loves his teammate. How Sherman handles this season will be one of the keys for the Seahawks in 2017 and for Sherman’s future with the team.

By the numbers

Sure, Seattle’s defense was not the same in the second half of last season because of the injury that sidelined free safety Earl Thomas. But I never bought the idea that Sherman had a down season on the field. Let’s look at the numbers. Since Sherman has established himself as one of the best corners in football, he’s usually averaged only two completions against him per game, according to Stats Inc.

2013: 30 completions on 46 attempts for 456 yards
2014: 34 completions on 71 attempts for 484 yards
2015: 32 completions on 70 attempts for 522 yards

The numbers last year were 36 completions on 78 attempts for 540 yards. Not bad. Also understand that in the past two seasons, he’s matched up against opponents’ best receivers in key games, something he didn’t do in his early years. During that four-year stretch to begin his career, he gave up only 10 touchdown passes.

Notable

Sherman has two seasons left on his contract as does Thomas. It would be nice if the Seahawks extend strong safety Kam Chancellor’s contract before the start of the regular season to show that the Legion of Boom is staying together. Sherman admits he wears his emotions on his sleeves and losing hits him hard. How he handles this season will determine if the Seahawks extend his contract and keep the group together.

Quotable

“I’m a guy who wears his emotions on his sleeve,” Sherman wrote Friday in a column for The Players’ Tribune. “I don’t care about what people think of me. If you love me, great. If you hate me, that’s cool, too. I just want people’s opinions of me to be rooted in fact, not speculation or conjecture. For example, there were people who said that I wanted out of Seattle this off-season. That could not be further from the truth. The truth is, I do not want out of Seattle.”

Most Intriguing Seahawks: No. 20, WR Jermaine Kearse; No. 19, K Blair Walsh; No. 18, S Bradley McDougald; No. 17, RB Thomas Rawls; No. 16, DT Jarran Reed; No. 15, DE Frank Clark; No. 14, WR/KR Tyler Lockett; No. 13, WR Amara Darboh; No. 12, CB C.J. Prosise; No. 11, RT Germain Ifedi; No. 10, S Kam Chancellor; No. 9, TE Jimmy Graham; No. 8, DL Michael Bennett; No. 7, LT George Fant; No. 6, DL Malik McDowell; No. 5, CB Shaquill Griffin; No. 4, RB Eddie Lacy; No. 3, FS Earl Thomas; No. 2, QB Russell Wilson.