Despite an injury-riddled 2020 season, cornerback Richard Sherman was still an undeniable leader in the San Francisco 49ers’ secondary. The veteran defensive back is on the tail end of his career. However, the Las Vegas Raiders would suit him well. Sherman should be a priority target this offseason, especially with the arrival of his former defensive coordinator, Gus Bradley.
A Potential Reunion?
The Las Vegas Raiders announced on Tuesday the arrival of defensive coordinator Gus Bradley to the coaching staff. While many focus on his recent tenure with the Los Angeles Chargers, his stint with the Seattle Seahawks was much more fruitful. The mastermind behind the “Legion of Boom” coached up one of the best defenses in NFL history. As a result, the Seahawks’ defense allowed the least amount of points in the NFL from 2012 to 2016. During that span, Sherman was the gold standard of cornerbacks for a decade.
Richard Sherman has been the NFL's best CB this decade pic.twitter.com/1JoJmuPeOO
— PFF (@PFF) December 31, 2019
Both Bradley and Sherman have a professional relationship that has clearly been tangible througout the years. This is what the former All-Pro said to Los Angeles Chargers cornerback Casey Hayward when the ‘Bolts’ hired Gus as their new defensive coordinator back in 2017, via the Chargers official website.
“I talked to Sherman this week, and he just said, ‘Man, you are going to love this guy! You are going to be willing to run through a wall for him because that is the type of person he is.’ That got me real excited. He said he is really good for a cornerback because he will mix things up. He’ll play some (cover) three, he’ll play some man. He said Gus will mix things up and bring different pressures.”
Fast forward to 2021, and the two’s relationship could reunite them in Las Vegas this offseason.
How Richard Sherman can help the Raiders secondary
Sherman has spent the past two seasons with the 49ers. While he isn’t as young as he used to be in 2019, the corner showed he was still one of the best defenders in the NFL.
.@PFF's highest-graded CB from 2019. 💪
— NFL (@NFL) March 11, 2020
Due to injury, the former Seahawk only participated in five games last season. This upcoming offseason, he will be an unrestricted free agent. For the Raiders, Sherman can provide leadership and continuity in a youthful secondary. More importantly, he is a veteran that can assist with implementing Gus Bradley’s predominant Cover 3 scheme in Las Vegas.
In his four years in LAC, Gus Bradley:
– Blitzed at the lowest rate in the NFL (16%)
– Played Cover 3 at the highest rate (43%)
– Played with dime personnel at the second-highest rate behind Green Bay (34%)
— Austin Gayle (@PFF_AustinGayle) January 12, 2021
Cover 3 is a scheme where defensive backs must understand their role, otherwise plays like the one below will occur.
Amazing how TB repeatedly got behind ATL's cover 3 defense. If you have a deep third, you can't get beat deep. pic.twitter.com/1IeCjaGKmJ
— Ted Nguyen (@FB_FilmAnalysis) September 14, 2016
Ironically, it just so happens that Richard is one of the most savvy players within the Cover 3 scheme in NFL history, regardless of age.
Whether it be at cornerback or the safety position, the Silver and Black will need a veteran presence in the secondary. They need to look no further than the former Stanford alum. He may not bear the athletic traits of an elite defensive back anymore, but his wisdom and understanding of the game is unrivaled.
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Top Photo: Stan Szeto/USA TODAY Sports