Sports with Art Thiel
5:00 am
Fri May 9, 2014

Richard Sherman Deal 'Deserved,' 'Part Of The Game'

Seahawks star Richard Sherman is now the highest-paid cornerback in the NFL after signing a $57 million, four-year contract extension this week.

KPLU sports commentator Art Thiel doesn't question the amount of the salary, but wonders what it might do to Sherman's performance on the field.

He 'Deserved It'

Art says there's no question about Sherman's ability and whether he should be paid such a high salary.

"Richard Sherman is the preeminent cornerback in the NFL, and he deserved it. I think most of the Seahawks would agree that he brings something that no one else does and he should be paid a premium for it.

"The consequence, of course, is how you distribute the salary over the four years of the contract. The Seahawks are very sharp about this. Not only is there an injury risk, there's a risk that Richard underperforms. That is just part of the game. You have to structure your future salary contracts accordingly," he said.

'Price Of Success'

Art says Sherman's salary and the $40 million deal last week that made the Seahawks' Earl Thomas the highest-paid safety in the NFL are the price of success in the NFL.

"You have to pay your young stars a lot of money and hope that you have enough salary cap room to be able to hire a lot of people to support the big stars," he said. "The Seahawks have had a pretty good track record so far. We'll see how that plays out two or three years down the road."

Can He Handle It?

At the age of 26, Sherman is suddenly very, very wealthy. Some are asking: can he handle it?

"I think Richard is a very bright guy," Art said. "I don't think any of us can know how much we would be impacted with something like that. It gives him a platform that is unprecedented. And he has already used this platform to comment on lots of social and political issues, and he will feel emboldened to do more."

Sherman has been active recently with appearances at the White House Correspondents' Dinner and at Harvard.

"The question is will he maintain that intense, emotional and physical edge that he brings to the Seahawks defense," Art said. "And that's just kind of an open question."

Here is some of what Sherman had to say at his press conference on Wednesday:

“You can take a ragged dog that has been living on the streets for 10 years and put him in a brand new house with steak and lobster every night,” Sherman said. “He’s still the ragged dog that you got off the streets. So I’m still the ragged dog off the street.

“That mentality isn’t something that I can change, I don’t think. Even I wanted to, I can’t do it. It’s not a switch that I have. I’ve always been in this mentality so I don’t know anything else. This is how I’m going to be until I hang the cleats up . . . Money didn’t motivate me before; it’s not going to motivate me now. It’s a drive to be great, it’s a drive to win, it’s a drive to want to make it to the Hall of Fame."

Art sums it up this way: "If anybody's going to succeed, I think it's going to be Richard because he does have an edge that is hard-wired, and I think that's going to be a help in navigating this big salary."

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You can find Art Thiel's work at Sportspress Northwest and Crosscut.com.

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