Why Richard Sherman would legitimize Panthers defense in 2021

(San Francisco 49ers/Pool Photo via USA TODAY Network) Richard Sherman
(San Francisco 49ers/Pool Photo via USA TODAY Network) Richard Sherman /

Signing experienced All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman would legitimize the Carolina Panthers from a defensive standpoint in 2021.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that the Carolina Panthers need some additional reinforcements at cornerback. General manager Scott Fitterer has done a nice job of picking up some impressive defensive players capable of improving a unit that is now loaded with prolific talent. But the obvious need to acquire someone who can slot opposite Donte Jackson in a starting role is glaring.

The Panthers still have plenty of salary-cap space available to achieve such a feat, although some speculate they are holding something back as they continue to pursue an alternative to Teddy Bridgewater at quarterback. However, with the chances of landing Deshaun Watson from the Houston Texans growing slimmer by the day, it might be worth Carolina investing in other positional groups and getting their signal-caller of the future via the 2021 NFL Draft.

One of the biggest names available on the market following the first wave of free agency is Richard Sherman. The veteran has seen and done it all through his glittering career and getting someone of his caliber would be a tremendous coup for the Panthers at this stage of their rebuild.

Sherman would legitimize Carolina’s defense, who made some real strides as the season went on. Sure, he may not be at the peak of his powers anymore, but his production was still of a high standard in 2020 despite turning out in just five games due to injury.

Richard Sherman would be a solid influence on the off the field.

Providing there is mutual interest and the financial cost isn’t significant, the benefits of bringing Sherman on-board are there for all to see. He is a three-time All-Pro, has five Pro Bowl selections to his name, is a Super Bowl champion, and was also named to the NFL’s 2010s All-Decade Team.

Not bad for a fifth-round pick in 2011 that few gave a chance of making a name for himself.

And who was the director of college scouting that identified Sherman as a prospect that could become a prolific starter?

Scott Fitterer.

This connection from their pair’s time together with the Seattle Seahawks could be a big swing in Carolina’s favor. Sherman’s talent shone through, but it was Fitterer who believed in him enough to take him out of Stanford.

Sherman earned a base salary of $8 million in 2020 and boasts impressive career earnings of $82.73 million, according to Spotrac. He’s bet on himself before and reaped the rewards, so an incentivized one-year deal might work for the player in pursuit of getting a bigger commitment in Carolina or elsewhere once the cap situation improves next time around.

Richard Sherman brings a winning mentality.

Acquiring Sherman would provide a fierce winning mentality to a relatively inexperienced secondary. The player demands nothing but the best from himself and others around him. So this might spur on current members of the roster onto bigger and better things as a result.

Having Sherman on the team would also aid the development of Troy Pride Jr., Stantley Thomas-Oliver, and Myles Hartsfield enormously. Having such a prolific presence to learn from will be invaluable and something they should take full advantage of, with the prospect of Carolina bringing in another eye-catching individual from the college ranks highly likely.

If someone like Sherman was to choose the Panthers, it would vindicate the current direction of the franchise and provide instant creditability to an organization that is obviously heading in the right direction under Matt Rhule.

Creditability is something owner David Tepper is aiming for with a big move in the quarterback market. But convincing Sherman that his immediate future lies in Carolina would be another big shot in the arm.

Providing there are no further injury complications, this move would benefit all parties involved. Considering the current state of affairs across the league, it might be more likely than at any stage during the offseason so far.