The Cleveland Browns enter the offseason in need of help on the defensive side of the ball.
That is especially true at the cornerback position, which was hit by injuries in the 2020 season. General manager Andrew Berry even admitted as much in his season-ending press conference, when he remarked that “you can never have enough corners. You really can’t, especially in this defense. That is always an area that we will want to be deep going into the year.”
Enter Richard Sherman. Maybe.
The 10-year veteran cornerback is heading toward free agency after playing the past three seasons with the San Francisco 49ers. A three-time All-Pro selection and five-time Pro Bowler, Sherman will be looking for what will likely be the final contract of his career that might carry some actual dollars behind it.
Because Sherman is a name that many fans will recognize, fans across the league will be lobbying for him to sign with their favorite team. That is nice, but not the same as having a team with an actual paying contract showing interest.
Which is where Sherman, the Browns and Twitter all intersect.
CJ McCollum, currently a guard with the NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers and a Browns fan after growing up in the area, Tweeted at Sherman on Thursday that McCollum would like to see Sherman wearing orange and brown next season.
Sherman responded to McCollum’s Tweet on Friday morning.
Naturally, that got some Browns fans fired up that Sherman wants to come to Cleveland and be a part of what the team is building.
Sherman does play a position of need for the Browns and would bring valuable experience to the cornerback room, which is currently headed by Denzel Ward, who just finished his third season in the league. Sherman is also familiar with defensive coordinator Joe Woods, who was the defensive backs coach with the 49ers in 2019.
On the negative side, Sherman is not the cornerback he once was - he finished the 2020 season with a 67.7 grade from Pro Football Focus, which put him just a tick behind Terrance Mitchell - and is coming off a season where he only played five games due to injuries.
And while he can still be effective in a zone defense, having Sherman line up in man coverage is a disaster waiting to happen. As a third cornerback he could effective, and there is always the possibility that Woods or head coach Kevin Stefanski could convince Sherman to move to safety, where he could certainly be no worse than Andrew Sendejo.
Whether or not Sherman would be open to the idea of a position switch, or be ready to accept that his game has slipped, is an unanswered question this year. The same goes for how much he expects to be paid. Berry has said that his priority is to be able to use free agency as a way to retain the team’s core, so if Sherman is looking for one final big payday, he likely will not find it in Cleveland.
This brings us back to the original question - did Sherman really express an interest in signing with the Browns in that Tweet?
That seems like a pretty big leap to come to that conclusion. Sherman is smart and he knows the best way to maximize his next contract is to make it appear that as many teams as possible are interested in his services. He is not going to accomplish that goal by responding to a Tweet from a fellow professional athlete with something along the lines of “hell no, I’m not going there!”
If the Browns do reach out to Sherman, it is likely he would take their call. He is familiar with Woods, and the Browns are a team on the rise. Money will be the driving force behind his next contract, as it is with just about everyone, but the opportunity to win will also have its appeal.
But it is safe to say that Browns fans should not be setting aside any time soon to check out flight trackers from San Francisco to Cleveland, especially based on that one single Tweet from Sherman.