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2018 NFL free agency: Seahawks expected to release cornerback Richard Sherman, Patriots a potential suitor

The veteran could become available soon.

Atlanta Falcons v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

Soon after NFL free agency starts next Wednesday, the New England Patriots are expected to lose starting cornerback and unrestricted free agent Malcolm Butler. This puts the team in the market for another player at the position and one of the best cornerbacks of the last years will likely be available: The Seattle Seahawks are expected to release former All-Pro Richard Sherman soon.

Sherman, who will turn 30 in three weeks, is entering the final year of his contract and scheduled to be on Seattle's books with a salary cap hit of $13.2 million. Apparently, the number is too high for the Seahawks' liking considering that the four-time Pro Bowler is coming off a season-ending Achilles rupture and underwent two surgical procedures since his early November injury.

That being said, a healthy Sherman is still among the better defensive backs in the NFL, a player capable of shutting down the perimeter on one side of the field. The Patriots, after already engaging in non-successful trade talks with the Denver Broncos for Aqib Talib, should therefore have him on their free agency radar – especially considering that the two were already flirting with each other last year.

Of course, Sherman does not come without his fair share of questions: How is his Achilles processing? Could paying him be an issue for the Patriots with Stephon Gilmore already on the books for $12.5 million? Would Sherman be able and willing to play in the man-to-man scheme New England prefers to run defensively? If Bill Belichick and company feel confident about all three, though, it would not be a surprise to see the team kick the tires.