NFC West: Brandon Carr

710ESPN Seattle audio: Paying Sherman

April, 23, 2013
Kam Chancellor has a new contract with the Seattle Seahawks. Defensive teammates Earl Thomas, Richard Sherman and K.J. Wright can become free agents after the 2014 season. Each could be in line for a new deal in the next year or so.

Sherman's name and contractual future came up in conversation Monday when Brock Huard, Danny O'Neil, John Clayton and I got together for a segment on 710ESPN Seattle .

How much can a team justify paying a top cornerback? That will be a question for the Seahawks to consider when it comes to paying Sherman. Darrelle Revis, Champ Bailey, Brandon Carr and Cortland Finnegan have all been earning at least $10 million per season. Revis, Carr, Joe Haden, Finnegan, Johnathan Joseph and Brandon Flowers have all gotten at least $20 million guaranteed.

The chart shows the NFL cornerbacks with the highest average salaries in the first three years of their contracts. The figures for Revis will be revised once details are known regarding his new deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Sherman has made it clear he thinks there isn't a cornerback better than him in the NFL. He's been a bargain as a fifth-round draft choice. And while Sherman has sounded grateful over the opportunity Seattle has provided for him, expectations for a new contract should be exceedingly high if Sherman continues to play at a high level. Someone would pay top dollar for what he can provide.

It could be the Seahawks. The next couple drafts will be critical in giving the team cheaper alternatives at a few positions. Cornerback is one of those positions. Wide receiver is another. The team will want to have options at those positions while deciding how much to pay Sherman, Sidney Rice and possibly Golden Tate for the long term.
The San Francisco 49ers realized a terrific return on investment by signing Carlos Rogers to a one-year deal in free agency last offseason.

Rogers put together a Pro Bowl season, positioning himself for a big payday.

The 49ers now have options. They could sign the 30-year-old corner at a premium price. They could seek another bargain at the position. They could try to sign Rogers once the market settles, provided he remains unsigned. They could identify younger talent at the position and proceed accordingly.

The team has already signed former Denver Broncos starter Perrish Cox to a two-year deal. Initial reports are linking the 49ers to former Kansas City cornerback Brandon Carr and Detroit Lions corner Eric Wright in free agency.

It's early and I would caution against making assumptions prematurely. I'll be watching to see how much money the 49ers invest in the position. Their current leadership released Nate Clements and the fat contract Clements signed as a free agent years earlier. That same leadership gave former starter Shawntae Spencer permission to seek a trade. The 49ers used 2011 third- and seventh-round choices on corners.

NFC West teams face a long list of top quarterbacks in 2012. The 49ers are scheduled to go against Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford, Eli Manning and Drew Brees.

Purely from a football standpoint, they would likely be best off with Rogers. That doesn't necessarily make him the best value.
MoJo from Tucson sees similarities between the 2008 Aaron Rodgers and more recent versions of Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Kevin Kolb. Both were drafted as heirs to successful veterans. MoJo thought Rodgers struggled some in his first season as a starter. Kolb suffered from bad luck, getting injured. MoJo wants to know if I see any similarities as we continue to consider Kolb as a potential acquisition for the Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals.

Mike Sando: I don't see a meaningful comparison here. The back story on Rodgers in Green Bay was that he instantly caught teammates' attention in practice. His talent was obvious. Brett Favre was better at that point, but Rodgers made it clear he had the talent to take over the job sooner rather than later. There's also a brashness to Rodgers that served him well in that situation. He wasn't going to disrespect Favre, but he wasn't going to worship him. Rodgers expected to play.

I don't know as much about Kolb. He seems to have an edge about him, too. But in his current situation, Michael Vick became the one with the more prodigious talent. There's no push from anyone to get Kolb onto the field. If the 2007 or 2008 version of Rodgers were in Philadelphia, I suspect he would be the unquestioned starter.

Also, Rodgers played quite well during his first season as a starter. He finished that 2008 season with 28 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. Favre struggled through an ultimately unsatisfying season with the New York Jets that year. His 2009 season with Minnesota was special, but it was also an exception to the norm in recent seasons. While Rodgers has consistently put up good numbers and even won a championship, Favre has thrown more touchdowns than interceptions in a season just twice since 2005.

Had Kolb been on the bench in Green Bay while Favre's career was winding down, I doubt the Packers would have moved as aggressively to make the change. Rodgers has the "it" factor. It's harder to tell whether Kolb measures up in that area, or as a passer.

Aaron from Redmond, Wash., wanted my thoughts on NFL commissioner Roger Goodell's comments to Seattle Seahawks fans regarding 10 a.m. PT kickoffs.

Mike Sando: These are potentially significant comments in that Goodell has previously dismissed West Coast teams' concerns about early kickoffs. This time, the commissioner said the matter is "something we've got to try to find a way to deal with" amid challenges related to broadcast schedules. Let's consider this to be a starting point in a conversation long overdue from West Coast teams' perspectives.

Neil from Jackson, Miss., says St. Louis Rams offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels' reputation as a pass-oriented coach stems from the success McDaniels' quarterbacks have enjoyed, not from any aversion to the ground game. Neil says he's a Saints fan and he has seen how effectively a balanced offense can benefit the passing game. He expects the Rams to use running back Steven Jackson to the extent necessary to make quarterback Sam Bradford look good.

Mike Sando: That's a good way to put it, Neil. I raised the subject with AFC West blogger Bill Williamson on Friday afternoon while we were sharing a ride to the airport in Hartford from our annual meetings in Bristol. Williamson noted that selecting running back Knowshon Moreno was McDaniels' first draft-related decision as Denver Broncos coach. McDaniels' personnel decisions did not work out so well, and Moreno hasn't met expectations. But that isn't as relevant as the fact that McDaniels valued the ground game enough to take a running back in the first round.

Kualla83 from Phoenix wonders why ESPN's Rick Reilly rated Arizona Cardinals cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie so low in his recent redrafts. Kualla83 acknowledges that Rodgers-Cromartie suffered through a rough 2010 season, but he has also seen Rodgers-Cromartie's speed facilitate spectacular plays in coverage. He'd still take Rodgers-Cromartie first among the cornerbacks selected in that 2008 draft class.

Mike Sando: Reilly made Rodgers-Cromartie the seventh cornerback drafted in 2008. That is too low, in my view. He put Tracy Porter, Aqib Talib, Brandon Flowers, Terrell Thomas, Brandon Carr and Antoine Cason ahead of "DRC" in this redraft.

This is feeling like a pivotal season for Rodgers-Cromartie. The Cardinals used the fifth overall choice in the draft for a cornerback. Rodgers-Cromartie has taken quite a bit of criticism. Getting slapped around by Reilly on a redraft should not go unnoticed, either.

I think the Cardinals will find out a great deal about Rodgers-Cromartie this season.