Richard Sherman Calls Out Contract Critics After All-Pro Nod

Richard Sherman All-Pro Critics

Getty Richard Sherman #25 of the San Francisco 49ers looks on during the warm up before the game against the Los Angeles Rams at Levi's Stadium on December 21, 2019 in Santa Clara, California.

Critics were quick to call it “terrible” and “a mistake” when Richard Sherman self-negotiated his contract with the San Francisco 49ers, but the All-Pro cornerback is the one having the last laugh.

Sherman was selected to The Associated Press’s All-Pro second team when rosters were unveiled Friday morning, which qualified him for his last possible contract incentive for the 2019 season. The veteran cornerback is now locked in for all $4 million in incentives this year, earning $2 million for his All-Pro nod and a million each for making the Pro Bowl roster and playing 90 percent of defensive snaps for the 49ers.

With his earnings officially maxed out, Sherman asked fans on Twitter to find him the “receipts” from critics who trashed the Stanford graduate’s deal — and his fans sure delivered.

Sherman negotiated a three-year, $27 million deal with the 49ers without the help of an agent in March 2018 that was both friendly for the team and heavy on the incentives. It was effectively Sherman, almost 30 at the time, betting on himself after rupturing his Achilles one season earlier, but the unorthodox decision didn’t take long to draw criticism from around the NFL.

Former Cleveland Browns offensive lineman Joe Thomas called it “clearly a case of ego,” while plenty of fans and news outlets offered up their reasons why the entire thing was a mistake. Sherman didn’t let many of them off the hook Friday afternoon, retweeting many of their old takes and articles with some words of his own now that he has walked the walk.

Sherman is owed a little celebration after helping the 49ers (13-3) capture the NFC West title and the conference’s No. 1 seed in the playoffs as a stalwart member of the secondary. He has a team-high 11 passes defended and three interceptions, including a pick-six against Carolina.

Two other 49ers were picked for the All-Pro roster on Friday with star tight end George Kittle being named a first-team selection and defensive tackle DeForest Buckner making the second team.

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Sherman’s Success Might Be Slippery Slope

Sherman is a smart guy and, better than anyone else, knows what he is capable of doing on the football field. It is exciting to see him bet on himself and win big against doubters who thought injuries or age would catch up with him before he could cash in.

But not everyone is Richard Sherman.

While the 49ers cornerback is a success story, there is a risk of the wrong message being conveyed in the process about players representing themselves without agents in contract negotiations. Sherman certainly proves NFL players are capable of dodging agent fees and getting exactly what they want if they work out deals themselves with teams, but not everyone is as financially savvy.

Confidence isn’t the problem, especially for the players deserving of high-sum contracts, but it can be a slippery slope in a game where pitfalls such as injuries can strike at any moment. It doesn’t help that the NFL and some of its teams have a poor reputation when it comes to looking out for the best interests of their players, with issues ranging from a lack of trust in team doctors to players’ concerns about playing an 18-game season in the future.

That’s not to say it isn’t possible for Sherman’s approach to become more popular. There is plenty of merit in players representing their own interests and working out deals themselves, so long as they have the right knowledge and awareness of the contract negotiation process. Just don’t be surprised if there are a few bad beats down the line when the chips are down.

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