JIM MOORE

Moore: How will Seahawks fare when facing Richard Sherman’s 49ers?

Mar 11, 2018, 10:45 PM
Russell Wilson will find himself throwing against Richard Sherman next season. (AP)...
Russell Wilson will find himself throwing against Richard Sherman next season. (AP)
(AP)

I suppose there are three schools of thought about Richard Sherman signing a three-year contract with the 49ers over the weekend.

• You hate it because he’s playing for a division rival.
• You love it because it reignites the dormant 49ers-Seahawks rivalry, and it means you get to see Sherman again at Century Link Field.
• You don’t care one way or the other – the Seahawks released him, and he was free to go wherever he got the best offer.

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If you’re in the hate-it camp, at least he didn’t sign with the Patriots – in a Seattle Times poll, most of the voters would have disliked that move the most.

Put me in the love-it camp. I’m looking forward to watching Sherman go against Russell Wilson and Doug Baldwin. Will the Seahawks throw his way? If they do, will Wilson and Baldwin beat him, or will Sherman show the Seahawks they should have never let him go? Can you imagine his celebration if he intercepts a Wilson pass and turns it into a pick six?

And what about the pregame build-up? Since he’s in the division, we’ll get two of those a year. Then the postgame press conferences, particularly if the 49ers win and Sherman plays a big part in stopping a fourth quarter Seahawks’ drive. Will he tell Erin Andrews that Baldwin’s mediocre?

I doubt that he’d be as fiery as he was after the 2013 NFC Championship Game when his tipped pass was intercepted by Malcolm Smith, who is coincidentally one of his new teammates in San Francisco.

But you never know what Sherman might say. He could be humble and talk about how fortunate he was to deflect a pass that was intended for Baldwin that would have given the Seahawks a last-second win. Or he could go off on the Seahawks and say something along the lines of:

“Ya know, I still could have been making those kinds of plays for the Seahawks, the ones they always saw me make, but they must have forgotten about those because if they’d remembered, they never would have released me. I plan to make life miserable for them and remind them of the bad decision they made for at least the next three years.”

If I had to bet which way those battles will turn out, I’d flip a coin. Half of me thinks Sherman will get the last word because he seemingly always does. The other half feels like Sherman won’t be as good as he used to be at 30 and coming off an Achilles injury. He also won’t have Earl Thomas backing him up, and good luck finding a cornerback who has left Seattle and found success somewhere else. Sherman figures to buck that trend, but history is working against him.

I like the decision to let him walk. It’s time to get younger on defense. I’m hoping the $11 million saved from Sherman’s contract will be spent on the offensive line, namely on a deal for Carolina’s Andrew Norwell, the best guard on the free agent market.

I don’t want to see the money go toward an extension for Earl Thomas – let him play out his current deal and delay the long-term decision on the future Hall of Famer until after the 2018 season. Learn from the mistake with an extension for Kam Chancellor and use patience as a precaution against a serious injury with Thomas. Call his bluff on a holdout and hope that Thomas plays his butt off in a contract year.

Then if you can’t work out an extension, franchise-tag him for the 2019 season and see how he plays at the age of 30 before making a longer-term commitment.

Plus I have no interest whatsoever in re-signing Sheldon Richardson for the money he’s talking about – in the neighborhood of $14 million a year. I thought he was good this year, everyone thought he was good, but $14 million screams great, not good.

Losing Sherman is a blow – I’d put him in the top 10 or top 20 anyway of best professional athletes in Seattle sports history. But the guy you’re losing probably isn’t the one who excelled in his prime.

There might not be a huge dropoff to Byron Maxwell, his replacement last year. In fact, the Seahawks gave up fewer passing yards a game after Sherman was hurt than before he tore his Achilles against the Cardinals. But they need to re-sign Maxwell, who’s an unrestricted free agent. I’m guessing that’s a formality with an agreement already in place with Maxwell, though no one’s told me as much. I’m assuming they would not have released Sherman if that weren’t the case.

However it all turns out, we can agree on one thing – it suddenly got more interesting with the release of Richard Sherman.

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Moore: How will Seahawks fare when facing Richard Sherman’s 49ers?