Richard Sherman is tired of the criticism.
The All-Pro cornerback negotiated his own contract with the San Francisco 49ers upon being released by the Seattle Seahawks earlier this offseason. The result was a three-year deal heavy on incentives, causing many to wonder whether Sherman would have been better off hiring an agent.
“It was really important to me,” Sherman told reporters Tuesday, per ESPN.com. “I think that a lot of times in our league there are players that have the ability to do that and have the ability to structure their own deals and really take advantage of just being in control of their own destiny.
“There are great agents in our game that take care of our players, make sure our players are ready for life after football, their finances, whatever the case may be. And then there are some agents who negotiate a deal in 2006 and don’t talk to their client again until 2010, and that’s the thing we’re trying to avoid and I’m trying to avoid.
“I didn’t feel like I needed an agent. I felt like I knew contracts well enough and I felt like coming off the Achilles (injury), there’s going to be negotiation points, there’s going to be give-and-takes on both sides, and I felt comfortable with that.”
Sherman’s three-year contract could be worth close to $40 million, but he basically must play at an elite level — something he’s done for most of his seven-year career — to receive all of the money. In essence, he’s gambling on himself.
While admirable, that approach comes with risk, especially with Sherman turning 30 this month and coming off a ruptured right Achilles that ended his 2017 season. But there’s potentially a perk to signing the new contract with San Francisco, assuming he returns to full health in the next few months.
“Under my previous contract with Seattle, I had no guaranteed money for 2018,” Sherman wrote for The Players’ Tribune. “In my new deal with the 49ers, I get a guaranteed $3 million signing bonus right off the bat and another $2 million if I pass a physical before November 11, which is the last day a team can bring a player off the PUP list. And in a sport where contracts aren’t fully guaranteed, money in hand is better than anything. So $5 million for just signing the contract and passing a physical is a big win for me.”
Sherman clarified in his piece that Seattle didn’t ask him to take a pay cut. The Seahawks simply informed him he’d be released, with no negotiation, and they chose not to match the 49ers’ contract offer when Sherman gave them an opportunity to do so. For that, Sherman admits, it’ll be nice to play his old team at least twice a year as a member of one of the Seahawks’ biggest rivals.
That motivation — the desire to stick it to the Seahawks — wasn’t the biggest reason for Sherman signing with the 49ers, though. And it sure wasn’t why he negotiated his own contract, or why he now feels the need to defend himself against critics of the deal.
“I think the thing I’m most frustrated about is all the people that were so high on bashing this deal refuse to bash the agents that do awful deals every year,” Sherman said Tuesday, per ESPN.com. “There are agents out there that do $3 million fully guaranteed deals that look like $50 million deals. When a guy gets cut after two weeks or after a year and the guy only makes $5 million off a $50 million contract, nobody sits there and bashes the agent.
“… So I think that this was just one of those things where the agents feel uncomfortable with the player taking the initiative to do his own deal. That obviously puts a fire under them, it makes them more accountable for their actions because more players will do this.”
Negotiating your own contract isn’t for everyone. But Sherman felt it was for him, and now he’s planning to live with the results, for better or worse, without any regrets.
“And whether you think it’s a good deal or a bad deal right now, the incentives give me the potential to make it a great deal over the length of the contract,” Sherman wrote for The Players’ Tribune.
“So talk to me in three years.”
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