NFL free agency is on the horizon, and whether the Cowboys are players or not is yet to be seen. They still have to figure out their situation with Dak Prescott. They are also waiting to see what the final salary cap number will be so they can model their finances for the year.
One position they know they are going to have deal with in free agency is cornerback. With both Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis up for a new contract, Dallas will have to make a decision on their future with the team. Talent plays a role, but price does too. With only Trevon Diggs and Anthony Brown under contract among corners who are starter level, the team has work to do.
One player they’ve been tangentially connected to is ex-Seattle Seahawk and soon-to-be ex-San Francisco 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman. He has been tabbed as one of the more interesting free agents to hit the market this offseason.
Though he turns 33 in March, Sherman was still solid last year, posting a 67.7 Pro Football Focus grade but while playing just 32 percent of the defense’s snaps over five games. He played in 15 games the year prior, finishing with an 88.9 PFF grade and permitting just 27 catches on 51 targets.
Whether teams think Sherman can stay healthy at this stage and just how much he’s worth is a big question mark. It’s also one that could have a huge impact on the 2021 season; if he’s healthy and in 2019 form, a contender that ponies up for him could make a serious run.
The reason Dallas has been linked to Sherman is his connection with the Cowboys new defensive coordinator Dan Quinn. Sherman played under Quinn in Seattle, and it seems like the player has much love and respect for his former coach. Just check out what Sherman had to say about Quinn in 2019.
Mention Dan Quinn’s name and Richard Sherman’s eyes widen. His smile spreads.
The four-time Pro Bowl cornerback and one-time Super Bowl champ knows what type of impact Quinn can have on a defense. Sherman was part of the Seattle Seahawks’ “Legion of Boom,” a group that was the NFL’s top-ranked defense in 2013 and 2014 when Quinn was the defensive coordinator.
“He’s a great leader of men — that’s why he got the job as a head coach — and as the coordinator, he’s going to do a great job of bringing the best out of these guys,” Sherman said of Quinn. “He’s a great motivator. He’s obviously very technical.
“We had two of our best years with him, and it was consistent. It was every game. Every game you’re at halftime you’re like, ‘Damn, that’s a hell of a thought. I didn’t even think to do that. We probably should shade over to this guy. We should blitz through this gap. Or we should just go, or stop blitzing.’ I think he’s one of the best defensive minds in the game.”
Sherman, one of the more thoughtful athletes you will ever run across, also went on to describe a specific situation against Green Bay when he was playing under Quinn in Seattle. Aaron Rodgers was picking apart everything Seattle was doing on defense so Quinn went to a totally different plan at halftime. Seattle came back to win the game.
Sherman notes that Quinn really is the type of coach that changes his scheme to fit his players. That was something that was promised last year in Dallas but never really seem to develop. This year may be different if what Sherman says can be counted on.
“If a guy is a straight-line rusher, let him straight-line rush,” Sherman said. “[Quinn’s] not going to run any type of games with him. If a corner is a man-coverage guy, he’s going to put him in position to play man. If you have two safeties and one of them is a better box safety and the other one is a better hole safety, he’s rarely going to put the hole safety in the box, or vice versa. But he will interchange it some as not to be predictable.
“A lot of times, it’s just knowing the guy’s strengths and just playing toward them. He won’t put guys out of positions and ask them to do something crazy. Now from time to time, you’ve got to put guys where they’re uncomfortable just to make the defense work. But for the most part, he’s going to put guys in the best possible position.”
Those are soothing words for any Cowboys fan who watched the defense struggle so badly in 2020, and the coaching not being able to do anything about it.
With the respect and admiration Sherman has for Quinn, maybe he would consider coming to Dallas to finish his career on a reasonable contract. Players don’t usually do those types of things, but Quinn would know how to use Sherman to his best potential, and Sherman may be able to go out of the game with some quality years in Dallas.
We’ll see. But, at the very least, it seems like Dallas got a defensive coordinator who will know how to win.