With Malcolm Butler expected to leave the New England Patriots once free agency opens next week, the team finds itself in the market for cornerback depth. Two of the biggest names available, however, will not join the Patriots this year: After the Denver Broncos traded Aqib Talib to the Los Angeles Rams, former Seattle Seahawks free agent Richard Sherman will also not move to New England.
According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, the veteran has signed a deal with the San Francisco 49ers:
And now it’s done: 49ers and CB Richard Sherman reached agreement tonight on a three-year deal, source tells ESPN.
Sherman is a 49er.
Yesterday, the Seahawks and Sherman parted ways after seven seasons. Naturally, the Patriots were one of the teams projected as a potential landing spot. However, the team never actually expressed any interest in the soon-to-be 30-year old, who is coming off a season-ending Achilles injury. Instead, Sherman visited San Francisco and will now join the team against which he had some of the most intense games of his career.
For New England, this means that there will be no big-name cornerback addition just yet. And it would not be a surprise if the team simply opted to sign a lower-tier player through free agency and instead focused on the draft to add considerable talent and depth to the defensive backfield.
[UPDATE 03/11, 8:19 pm ET] According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, the 49ers signed Sherman to a three-year, $39 million contract including a $5 million signing bonus. The Patriots were never going to play in this price range.