When Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman opted to save a couple of percentage points by flying without representation, one very specific question emerged: What will happen when the Seahawks try to squeeze him to take less money in 2018?
The problem arises from the inability of Sherman to gauge the market for his services elsewhere before giving Seattle a final answer. If still represented, Sherman’s agent could have: (1) met with the Seahawks last week about their proposal for 2018; and (2) met with other teams about what they would offer him, if he becomes available.
Yes, it’s tampering for other teams to engage in those discussions, but they routinely do. And it’s easy to get away with it. If Sherman, however, had personally shown up at the Scouting Combine and started talking to other teams, that would have been a problem.
Now, with Sherman reportedly planning to talk to the Seahawks about his future, Sherman will have no way of knowing what other teams will pay before he has to tell the Seahawks whether he’ll accept their offer on a reduced salary for 2018, below the $11 million he’s due to make.
The Seahawks could authorize him to talk to other teams before making a final decision. In some cases, knowing what other teams would pay will help a player come to grips with the fact that his market may not be what he thinks it should be. But the Seahawks may prefer that he make a decision without knowing what he could get elsewhere.
The Seahawks also could authorize Sherman to try to arrange a trade for his contract, which would likely be accompanied by a restructured deal. It would then be for Sherman to make those communications, and to attempt to thread the needle in the way that agents routinely do.
It creates a delicate situation for the Seahawks, who may be inclined to not even try to get Sherman to take less money. Before Sherman ever decides to do so, he needs to know what other teams would pay. Few if any teams would risk a tampering charge by dealing with him directly, absent express permission from the Seahawks.