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Seahawks’ decision to release Richard Sherman didn’t come overnight

By staying in the NFC West, Richard Sherman will play against the Seahawks twice a year. (AP)

The news that the Seahawks released Richard Sherman left fans with broken hearts. The All-Pro cornerback was an integral part of Seattle’s back-to-back Super Bowl appearances and record-setting defense. The news that he was signed by the 49ers, though? That felt more like a punch to the gut.

Stelton: No reason to be mad at Sherman for bolting to 49ers

That was a feeling shared by Brock Huard and Mike Salk when they talked about their initial reaction to the news Monday morning on 710 ESPN Seattle. They also agreed on another thing: the Seahawks’ decision to release Sherman didn’t happen overnight, and there were fractures in the relationship that predated any contract talks.

“Of all the teams you could go to, for me, just watching this and the history and everything here (I thought), ‘Not San Francisco,'” Brock Huard said. “Do not go to the up-and-comer, do not go to (49ers general manager) John Lynch, do not go to the team with $80 million cap space, do not go to a team in your division … just do not go to San Francisco.

“I’ll be honest, I’m torn. I think Richard’s going to have a great year next year. He’s betting on himself.”

However, Huard also questioned whether the Seahawks’ unique culture under Pete Carroll, while initially successful, ultimately led to a rift between Sherman and the organization.

“It was fun, and then it kind of shifted to, ‘This isn’t really fun anymore.’ And it’s not really fun to listen to (the players) be so arrogant and be so into their own worlds. How much of this falls on Pete Carroll, too? Because it’s easy to lambast Richard (but) Richard kind of built all of that over seven-plus years in Seattle …

“The demise of the Seahawks is what I hear in all these other markets. And they love the fact that Richard is sticking it right back to Pete and the Seahawks … because many of them felt, and it may be in retrospect now, ‘That culture, that loosey-goosey stuff, look what happened in the end.’ You know what I say to every one of them? Great. We won a Super Bowl. And had the greatest run in the history of this town. I’ll take it. If this is the trade-off, I’ll take that run that they had. And now they’ve got to build it all the way back up and are energized, I think from the inside, to do so.”

‘Seahawks didn’t wake up and think, ‘We’re done’

Salk said his first reaction was to be angry, but he added that it’s a complicated feeling.

“I do think this will up the rivalry with the team and ultimately I’ll like that,” Salk said. “But it ticks me off.  It always ticks me off when a star free agent decides to sign with a team that they’re best known for battling. Because it makes me think that they never really hated them. I want to believe that Richard Sherman hated (Michael) Crabtree and everybody on the 49ers. I know they’re a different team, but they’re the Niners and they still wear the same uniform and it bums me out. But I’m not burning his jersey like some people are, I think that’s probably crazy.”

Like Huard, he agrees that the decision to release Sherman didn’t happen in a vacuum.

“It was absolutely his decision to insult Pete (Carroll) over and over again in public. It was absolutely his decision to blast (former Seahawks offensive coordinator) Darrell Bevell, it was absolutely his decision, in my opinion, for the ( Seth Wickersham article… the Seahawks didn’t wake up, get out of bed, and think ‘We’re done with Richard Sherman.’

“I’m willing to buy that (Carroll’s culture) is part of the problem, that this thing’s gotten stale with the old players. I don’t know if that’s Pete’s fault as much as I think it’s too long for some of those players to be in this style of a system.”

What did Sherman say about Pete Carroll?

To his credit, Sherman described his relationship with Carroll as “outstanding” during an interview with 97.3 KIRO FM Friday.

“My relationship with Pete is outstanding,” Sherman said. “It has always been and it hasn’t wavered a bit throughout this process. Obviously I’m representing myself, and you hear all this nonsense out there like, ‘Oh man, he’s going to get emotional and that’s why guys shouldn’t represent themselves because they gotta hear the worst parts of it.’ But we’re pros.”