Ted Thompson should swing a deal for Richard Sherman
Back in April 2006, Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson signed then 29-year-old free agent cornerback Charles Woodson to a seven-year, $52 million contract.
At the time, Woodson’s name was mud. His play in Oakland had tailed off. He had battled a string of nagging injuries. And when Woodson hit free agency, much to his chagrin, only Green Bay showed interest.
“I wasn’t happy that day,” Woodson said in 2009 interview of signing with Green Bay. “I wasn’t sold on coming (to Green Bay), but there were really no other options. It got to a point where I just had to accept what was going on.
“There just wasn’t a lot of interest, and I tried damn near every other team. I was amazed.”
That was the last time Thompson made a “splash” move with his roster. And it paid off in spades as Woodson was Green Bay’s best defensive player for several seasons and a huge part of the Packers’ Super Bowl championship team in 2010.
Now, it’s time Green Bay’s ultra-conservative general manager does something completely un-Thompson-like. It’s time he exits the shallow end of the pool and decides to swim with the big kids.
Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman — who ironically is also 29 — has hit a crossroads in his potentially Hall of Fame career. Sherman has reportedly asked to be traded. The Seahawks seemingly have no problem moving him if the price is right.
And if Thompson wants to turn the Packers from Super Bowl pretenders to front-runners, adding Sherman is the best way to go.
As currently constructed, Green Bay’s defense is one of the worst in the NFL. The Packers ranked No. 31 in passing defense last year, allowing 269.2 yards per game. Green Bay also ranked a dreadful 26th in opponent quarterback rating (95.9).
The Packers had no answers once they lost Sam Shields to a potentially career-ending concussion injury last September. And when Thompson had a chance to find a standout corner and stop the bleeding in free agency last month, he once again chose to sit on the sideline.
But the shocking availability of Sherman is akin to a second Christmas. And after Thompson slept through the holidays the first time around, it’s imperative he now slides down the chimney with something other than coal.
By now, we’ve all seen this Thompson movie over and over. Draft and develop. Sign primarily your own free agents. And for the most part, lead your team into the post- season, then fall short of greatness.
In 12 years, Thompson has produced just one Super Bowl championship, despite having two Hall of Fame quarterbacks in his hip pocket. That’s not good enough.
Thompson has lived on his Aaron Rodgers draft pick for too long. And his general reluctance to add players from outside the organization has been a giant detriment.
Signing Woodson was one of the few times Thompson deviated from that narrative and it led the greatness. Adding Sherman could yield similar results.
According to Pro Football Weekly, which remains the Bible of football publications, Sherman was the No. 1 cornerback in the NFL heading into the 2015 season. That marked four straight seasons Sherman was in among top-three corners in the NFL.
Sherman’s play dipped slightly in 2016, but he’s still a Pro Bowl, difference-making talent. Despite that fact, neither Sherman or the Seahawks seem interested in keeping this marriage alive.
Sherman had a sideline blowup with defensive coordinator Kris Richard in Week 6 last year. Then in Week 15, Sherman went after head coach Pete Carroll and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell after the Seahawks tried — and failed — to throw the ball from the 1-yard line.
When Seattle tried to do that exact thing in the final seconds of Super Bowl XLIX, New England’s Malcolm Butler intercepted Russell Wilson’s pass and the Patriots escaped with the most dramatic win in Super Bowl history.
“I was letting (Carroll) know,” Sherman said at the time. “We've already seen how that goes.”
Last week, ESPN reported that it was Sherman who asked to be traded after the season. And with the Seahawks more than willing to honor that request, the question becomes at what asking price?
In 2013, the New York Jets sent 27-year-old Darrelle Revis to Tampa Bay for first- and fourth-round picks. Although Sherman is two years older than Revis, that’s probably a fair starting point.
That should also be a deal Thompson makes happen. Since Green Bay’s Super Bowl win in 2010, Thompson has had six first-round draft picks — and Sherman is far superior to all six.
Thompson missed on firstround picks Derek Sherrod and Datone Jones, appears to have struck out with Damarious Randall, and found solid players in Nick Perry and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. The jury is still out on 2016 first-rounder Kenny Clark.
If the Seahawks want a high draft pick and a player — as some have hinted — Green Bay should have no issues sending Randall Cobb west.
The Seahawks have been searching for quality receivers for years now. In Green Bay, Cobb is no better than the Packers’ No. 3 wideout.
And considering Cobb’s salary cap number is $12.656 million in 2017 and $12.75 million in 2018, he’s undoubtedly the most overpaid player on Green Bay’s roster.
On the flip side, Sherman’s contract has two years remaining at $11.431 million in 2017 and $11 million in 2018. And in today’s NFL, that makes Sherman a relative bargain.
In the last quarter century, Green Bay added three transcendent players from outside the organization: Brett Favre, Reggie White and Woodson. All three eventually helped the Packers hoist a Lombardi Trophy.
Sherman could become the fourth player on this list. Now, it’s up to Thompson to depart from his tired and predictable ways and make Sherman a Packer.
Cornerback Richard Sherman (right) could make an impact similar to Charles Woodson if traded to the Packers.