Who says Richard Sherman to the Pittsburgh Steelers won’t work?

San Francisco 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman (25). Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports
San Francisco 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman (25). Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports /

The Pittsburgh Steelers need cornerback depth, and who better to call than Richard Sherman. Here’s why it could work out. 

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this offseason that the Pittsburgh Steelers have no cap space. Trust me; I’m well aware of how that works. On paper, you may be right. After starting the offseason in the whole, the team now has roughly $7.4 million in effective cap space, according to Over the Cap, with only one player from their rookie class yet to sign (Kendrick Green).

When it comes to the idea of adding a premium free agent like Richard Sherman, fans scoff at the idea – calling it completely unrealistic. But I wouldn’t discount it entirely. In fact, there are certainly ways the Steelers could get this to work if they really wanted him.

According to Spotrac.com, Sherman is estimated to earn an average of $9.9 million per season on his new deal. While it seems like this would be out of Pittsburgh’s price range, there are ways of getting a deal done.

The first option would be to sign Sherman to a multi-year deal and lower his first-year cap hit. This is similar to what the Ravens did with Alejandro Villanueva this year. Though the former Steelers offensive tackle is set to earn $14 million over the next two seasons, he has a 2021 cap number of just $4.75 million because of the way the deal is structured. Pittsburgh could offer Sherman a 2-3 year contract and lower his first-year cap hit as much as possible.

Another option would be to go the voidable year route – something the team clearly isn’t afraid to do. While I don’t like this option as much (as it includes dead money for a player who won’t be with the team beyond the 2021 season), a deal like this could prove to be worth it if Sherman betters their chance of winning a Super Bowl this year. The Steelers could keep Sherman’s 2021 cap number low by adding voidable years to his contract and eating some dead money in the future.

Though these are the two best options, the Steelers could always extend and restructure a player, if they find that this is the way they want to go. Doing so for a player like David DeCastro or Stephon Tuitt could make sense. By extending and restructuring, Pittsburgh could free up additional cap space for the 2021 season to sign Sherman.

Why Steelers could use Richard Sherman

I know everyone is banking on Cameron Sutton to step up big in 2021. I am a really big Sutton fan myself, but it’s important to remember that they lost two quality cornerbacks this offseason in Steven Nelson and Mike Hilton. In their absence, Pittsburgh did almost nothing to replace them.

The Steelers lack of depth in the secondary is more than concerning, and Sherman could greatly help in this department. Allowing Sherman to be their outside cornerback and moving Sutton to a full-time role in the slot could be best for the team. If Sherman or Joe Haden were to get injured, Sutton would have the versatility to kick back outside.

Despite his age and injuries he suffered last year, Richard Sherman was still a Pro Bowl player in 2019 and was recently ranked as the 11th-best cornerback in the NFL from Pro Football Focus. He has four interceptions over his last 20 games and allowed a passer rating in coverage of just 63.0 in 2019 – giving up just one passing touchdown on the season.

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Richard Sherman isn’t the player he used to be, but he would still give the Steelers a big upgrade in the secondary. I know most fans think this is wildly unrealistic, but there are ways to get this done if Pittsburgh really wants him.