RENTON — Late Tuesday night, Richard Sherman received a text message from Seattle Seahawks general manager John Schneider. He finally knew they were going to wrap up his contract extension.
Just before lunchtime Wednesday, Sherman sat on stage at Seahawks headquarters in a blue suit, with a blue bow tie and ruffled blue pocket square. Two round diamond earrings sang from his earlobes. About 45 minutes later, Sherman would say he’s still a “raggedy dog.” But, at this moment, he was the crisp-suited $40 million man.
The vociferous Sherman signed a four-year extension Wednesday morning to remain with the Seahawks until 2018. His deal is worth $57.4 million, with $40 million guaranteed — which keeping with character Sherman announced himself before the press conference — proving talk and Pro Bowl cornerbacks are not cheap.
There were assurances Wednesday. Most of them came from Sherman.
He said he has not evolved from the grumpy fifth-round pick who feels slighted, make that outraged, by 23 other cornerbacks being selected ahead of him in 2011. He’s not done being bitter. Not by a long shot.
“I’m still the guy scrapping for a spot,” Sherman said. “You never lose that mentality. You can take a ragged dog that’s been on the streets for 10 years and put him in a new house with steak, lobster every night, and he’s still the raggedy dog you got off the street.
“I’m still the raggedy dog off the street. That mentality isn’t something I could change, I don’t think, even if I wanted to. Even if wanted to be, ‘Yeah, I’m a millionaire.’ I can’t do it. It’s not a switch that I have. I’ve been in this mentality. I don’t know anything else. This is how I’m going to be until I hang the cleats up. Then, I might try to eat caviar and drink wine, or whatever they do.”
Sherman is now the highest-paid cornerback in the league, surpassing New England’s Darrelle Revis, one of his many rivals. The Seahawks managed their offseason to get this and Earl Thomas’ contract done. Sherman is the sixth 2011 draft pick to sign a multi-year extension. Five were picked on day three of the draft. None were picked in round one.
“We treaded (sic) lightly in free agency to take care of our own guys,” general manager John Schneider said.
Sherman, 26, was a fifth-round pick in 2011 out of Stanford. Since, he has roared into the populous because of his play and mouth. His live postgame rant following the NFC title game made him known to the few whom, at that point, may not have known him. Time magazine named him one of its 100 most influential people. President Barack Obama imitated him at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner last week, which Sherman attended.
Most consider the Compton, California, native the best cornerback in football. He led the league last season in interceptions with eight, despite being thrown at the least.
Sherman has achieved the title of being the best — one he applied to himself before most others came around — through study and ambition, relying less so on pure athleticism. Though, it should not be overlooked his rangy frame contributed to him being a successful high school track athlete and it bolsters his ability now.
Sherman was pleased to finish the deal prior to the season. Again, Schneider said it wasn’t crucial to the Seahawks to get deals for Sherman and Thomas done prior to Thursday’s draft, though the timing seems to indicate it was a priority.
Sherman echoed Thomas’ thoughts from a few days prior. Now that his contract has been extended, he can worry only about football.
“You never want to have something like this hanging over your head,” Sherman said. “I think it allows you to play a little bit more free. Now, I can focus on ball.”
The Seahawks have committed huge amounts to Thomas, who received $40 million total, Sherman and strong safety Kam Chancellor ($28 million total). Thomas and Sherman are under contract until 2018. Chancellor’s deal is up in 2017.
Sherman referred to Thomas and Chancellor as his “brothers” Wednesday. He thanked a long list of teammates and coaches. Doug Baldwin, his pal from Stanford who used to give Sherman rides at college in his Dodge Charger, and Jeron Johnson, who went to Dominguez High School in Compton with Sherman, were in attendance. They took joy from heckling Sherman as he approached the stage.
His family was also in attendance. His father, Kevin, still has not retired from his job as a garbage truck driver. He’s working until his pension is available. His brother, Branton, mother, Beverly, and girlfriend sat in the front row.
Sherman said it was amazing to say the words, “$40 million.” However, at each turn when asked about money, he would pivot to say it won’t change him. After growing up in a situation where he would have to wear slippers with holes in them to school, he also added a quick philosophical thought.
“More money, more problems is a song everybody’s heard,” Sherman said. “For some reason, I just don’t believe that logic.”