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With Richard Sherman’s departure, CB yet another hole for Seahawks to fill

Richard Sherman said Friday that he had been released by the Seahawks. (AP)

Richard Sherman made it official Friday. He has been released by the Seahawks, ending the Legion of Boom era in Seattle.

For seven years, the left side of the field was protected against the pass for the Seahawks. Sherman was so effective as a shutdown cornerback, even Aaron Rogers wouldn’t throw to his side. Like all the greats at the position, Sherman made throwing to a quarterback’s right a bad thought.

O’Neil: Seahawks’ defense wasn’t going to get better staying intact

It’s just like Cliff Avril said the other day: everyone knew there was going to be change, but no one expected it to be to this extent. Michael Bennett was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles. Kam Chancellor may not be able to play this year because of a neck injury. Sheldon Richardson is a free agent and odds favor him leaving because he’s among the three best defensive free agents.

How big is the change? The Seahawks could end up having as many as 10 or 11 changes to their starting lineup. Sherman, Richardson, Avril, Chancellor and Bennett have to be replaced on defense. Linebacker Michael Wilhoite is unsigned. If Chancellor can’t play, the Seahawks go from eight starters with Pro Bowl experience to just three.

On offense, Jimmy Graham, Paul Richardson and Luke Joeckel probably are leaving. Who knows who will be the starter at halfback. There is a need for a fullback.

With the news about Bennett, Sherman and Jeremy Lane coming out this week, there are still plenty of moves and decisions that need to be made. Let’s look at a few of them.

• The Seahawks have to decide if they want to go young at strong safety or bring back veteran Bradley McDougald. McDougald played well for the Seahawks last year and can play either safety spot. The Seahawks may get back into the idea of playing younger guys who are talented, and if that is the case they might start Delano Hill at strong safety.

• Sherman’s release creates an opening at cornerback. Do the Seahawks re-sign Byron Maxwell, DeShawn Shead or both to maintain depth ? They are in good shape with Shaquill Griffin and Justin Coleman, but after that, there are questions.

• Signing running back Jonathan Stewart could be intriguing, particularly if the Timberline High School product comes back to this area by signing a minimum salary contract. He’s a 240-pound back who would fit the design of what Pete Carroll wants from his runners. He wants power. That doesn’t mean the Seahawks have given up on Chris Carson and Mike Davis, but they have to get better in the backfield.

• The Seahawks are expected to lose tight end Jimmy Graham, so they have to see if they can re-sign Luke Willson. Nick Vannett would have to move from being the third tight end to No. 1 if Willson doesn’t come back.

• The Seahawks still have time to re-sign defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson, but that doesn’t seem likely. Richardson could get $14 million or more a year in free agency.

• With Bennett and Avril not back with the team, the Seahawks need to build back depth for edge rushers on defense. You wonder if they will re-sign Marcus Smith. They did look at Brian Cushing, as well.

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