Yesterday afternoon, while you were busy enjoying your Saturday afternoon, Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk was busy coming up with ideas to infuriate two different fan bases with this tweet:
If the Chargers want to win the L.A. market, they should trade for Richard Sherman https://t.co/XGzg91joSd— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) April 9, 2017
I saw quite a bit of negative reaction on this from current and former Los Angeles Chargers fans. The thought process through most of this was that the Chargers would have to give up quite a bit to get the Pro Bowl Cornerback. Also, you have Jason Verrett! Why would you need another #1 CB?
I’m here to tell you, much to my surprise but maybe not your own, that I actually agree with Florio here. Let’s look beyond the headline for his explanation:
Apart from the familiarity between Sherman and new defensive coordinator Gus Bradley, Sherman is a Compton, California native whose presence would instantly boost the newcomers to L.A. in their competition for the hearts, minds, and wallets of the citizens of the City of Angels. In a sport that remains at its core an entertainment business, a significant potential benefit would come from marketing a great player with a dynamic personality in a major market that has gone from zero to two NFL franchise in the last 15 months.
That makes sense! The Chargers got to the L.A. market a year behind the Los Angeles Rams, which would’ve been an issue if the Rams were any good last season.
In Sherman, the Chargers would have an opportunity to get a real face for their team that would help them in their “Fight for L.A.” while also helping them to immediately turn their on-field performance around and maybe get them into the playoffs.
Beyond being a native, Sherman is also (still) an elite Cornerback and the type of leader that the defensive secondary seemed to be missing without Eric Weddle during the 2016 season.
The thought here would be to build up a strength of the team (the secondary) to an elite level to go with the counter-balance strength of the defense (Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram) to help cover up some of the gaps that the team won’t be able to fix this offseason (most notably, the poor coverage of their starting Safeties).
Unless I’m crazy, a team with Richard Sherman, Jason Verrett, Joey Bosa, Melvin Ingram, Philip Rivers, Melvin Gordon, Keenan Allen and Hunter Henry is exactly what L.A. is looking for. It has star power suitable for anyone looking and enough talent to fight for a playoff spot, even with remaining issues on both the offensive and defensive lines (which can be addressed in the draft).
Oh, also, I don’t think Sherman will cost all that much...
Beyond those off-field concerns, future performance and long-term financial factors have to be considered, too. Sherman’s still playing at a high level, but he’s approaching 30. Plus, the team has plenty of upcoming cap questions, and Sherman is carrying a $13.6 million cap hit into 2017 and a $13.2 million hit for 2018. Chancellor and Jimmy Graham each have one year left on their deals, and extensions for free safety Earl Thomas, pass rushers Cliff Avril and Frank Clark, and center Justin Britt are all on the horizon.
The Chargers are in a different situation. Instead of trying to build for the future, they have an eye on taking advantage of the limited time left for Philip Rivers, Antonio Gates, and (possible) Melvin Ingram (for contract reasons).
If they can fit Sherman into their salary cap, there’s no reason for the Chargers not to get him and go for broke over the next two seasons. This is when the “Fight for L.A.” will be won or lost.
The key to all of this is actually Rivers because he’d most likely be the one asked to restructure his deal to make room in the budget for Sherman. My guess is he’d rather try and get back into the playoffs now rather than build for a future he may not be a part of.