The New England Patriots made more waves this offseason when the team’s interest in Seattle Seahawks All Pro CB Richard Sherman surfaced this past week. The Patriots also added CB Stephon Gilmore to the defense, so the interest in Sherman appeared to have been a fact-finding mission to inquire about a potential trade price.
Well, even with Gilmore in the fold, the Patriots are still interested in possibly acquiring Sherman if the team is able to find a trade partner for CB Malcolm Butler, per the Herald’s Jeff Howe.
“A source told the Herald today nothing is imminent with a Sherman trade to any team, but there’s a very real possibility it happens during the run-up to the NFL draft on April 27,” Howe writes. “The Patriots, meanwhile, have expressed interest in acquiring Sherman, but other teams have pursued him more aggressively to this point, according to the source. But if the Patriots lose cornerback Malcolm Butler, either through restricted free agency or a trade, they could very likely increase their focus on prying Sherman from the Seahawks.”
The Seahawks stated they are going to “listen to everything” when teams call with trade offers and that Sherman is not off the table, partially due to Sherman’s behavior in 2016.
“Richard went through a lot last year,” Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said. “Most of it self-inflicted.”
Sherman yelled at his defensive coordinator in week 6 and needed to be separated, and then yelled at the head coach and offensive coordinator in week 15 and again needed to be separated.
The Seahawks wouldn’t be the first team to trade a player that might have affected the chemistry in the locker room, and the Patriots aren’t strangers to adding big personalities.
Of course there are conflicting stories about where the trade talks surrounding Sherman started.
“My understanding was that Richard Sherman initiated this,” ESPN’s Adam Schefter said. “He was looking to get out of Seattle and he was open to that idea initially. They’re accommodating him by listening to trade offers and they’ll see what happens. Again, I don’t know that anything happens here, but we’ll see if something materializes before the draft.”
But while Sherman might have “initiated” trade discussions, “he doesn’t want to leave behind that brotherhood,” Sherman’s older brother countered to NFL.com, also noting that Sherman will use the trade talks as “a new chip” on his shoulder.
"Sometimes people need to see you gone to realize what you had," Sherman said last week on ESPN’s First Take. "The grass isn't always greener on the other side. But I don't let things like that bother me. The chips will fall how they're supposed to."
The Patriots are interested in potentially pairing Sherman with Gilmore as the team clearly desires to enter 2017 with a pair of #1 cornerbacks in the secondary to counter the talented receivers on the upcoming schedule. The Bills are the only team on the schedule without a pair or trio of high quality receivers.
New England would ideally have Gilmore and Butler in the secondary, but Butler has not yet signed his restricted free agent tender and has explored a potential trade with the New Orleans Saints. Howe said that the Patriots and Butler “haven’t gotten anywhere close to an extension.”
Howe proposes a potential three-way trade among the Patriots, Seahawks, and Saints, where the Saints send picks to Seattle, the Seahawks send Sherman to New England, and the Patriots send Butler to New Orleans. The Seahawks might also be interested in proven veterans and a player like Tre Jackson or Danny Amendola might interest them as a sweetener.
“The Seahawks could be interested in players instead of or along with picks,” ESPN’s Sheil Kapadia writes. “Offensive line (tackle, specifically) is an obvious need. They're always looking for pass rush. And Seattle poked around the wide receiver market in free agency.”
The bottom line is that there is more than just smoke surrounding this story. Sherman is absolutely available and the Patriots are definitely one of the teams in the running.