That name according to Sara Marshall of Full Press Coverage is Richard Sherman.
According to Marshall, the potential to lose former Defensive Player of the Year Stephon Gilmore in a trade (that would likely bring them back a draft pick or two), creates a possible need for a new top-level cornerback. Marshall says J.C. Jackson hasn’t proven worthy of sliding into Gilmore’s role as the unquestioned choice to matchup with opposing team’s top wide receiver.
The Patriots have arguably one of the best secondaries in the NFL, and atop of that list is Stephon Gilmore. J.C. Jackson is not far behind, but the young up-and-comer hasn’t proven just quite yet to be at a CB1 status. The future of Gilmore in New England remains unclear, although a few reports recently have suggested the team and the former DPOY may be closer to working something out with his contract soon. But because of this uncertainty, it leaves a big hole that the Patriots may need to explore their options to fill. Losing Patrick Chung to retirement earlier this year opened the door for the team to sign a versatile player in Jalen Mills. Because he can play all positions in the secondary, it’s possible the Patriots could use him to make up for the absence of Gilmore. But because of his versatility, keeping Mills in one spot on the field seems unlikely.
Sherman Would Fit the Bill
Marshall loves Sherman’s experience and resume, despite the fact that the 33-year-old would be joining the Patriots after dealing with a calf injury that landed him on IR. Still, Marshall sees a cornerback tandem of Sherman and Jackson as potentially elite.
If New England is looking for a proven CB1 to sign, if they intend on not working with Gilmore for a new contract extension, Richard Sherman is a good name to look at. Although the 33-year-old is coming off a season mostly spent on IR due to a calf injury, he is only one year removed from his 5th Pro Bowl selection as well as another season spent going to the Super Bowl. Playing in just 5 games in 2020, Sherman had 1 interception and 18 tackles. Nothing to get excited over, but his 2019 season was more on par with his usual production. In 15 games, he totaled 3 interceptions returned for 65 yards and a touchdown, and 61 total tackles. Because Gilmore’s future with the team is in question, and it was reported recently in an interview with Sherman that the Patriots almost drafted him in 2011, signing the corner this offseason wouldn’t be a bad idea. If the Patriots don’t bring back Gilmore, signing Sherman would most likely be a short-term deal due to age and injury. But the talent he would bring and the probable great pairing with J.C. Jackson has the potential to be a force to not be reckoned with.
There is a case to be made for signing Sherman, even if they come to an agreement with Gilmore that ends his holdout.
Signing Sherman Makes Sense, Even if They Keep Gilmore
While adding Sherman to the secondary makes sense as a means of replacing Gilmore if he is traded, I’d love to see what a secondary that features Sherman, Gilmore and Jackson would look like? At 33, Sherman may not be the kind of player who the Patriots can play every down, but with so many teams using 4 and 5-receiver sets, and also leaning heavily on tight ends as major weapons in the passing game, you could make the argument Sherman would have great value in a specialized coverage role.
Former Patriot Aqib Talib revealed on the Call To the Booth podcast that Belichick offered him $6 million for the 2020 season to exclusively cover tight ends for the Patriots. Sherman is 6’3″ 205 pounds, and known for his strength and ability to cover bigger receivers. He would seem like a natural fit for a similar role. This role could be even more valuable to the Patriots with Gilmore still on the squad.
Imagine not needing to commit Gilmore on Jackson to cover Rob Gronkowski in Week 4, Kyle Pitts in Week 11, Mo-Allie Cox in Week 15, or Travis Kelce, Darren Waller and George Kittle in the postseason or Super Bowl.
Sherman to the Patriots makes a lot of sense.