By Tim Booth Associated Press
RENTON — Richard Sherman finally got his moment of being a top pick.
He stood on the stage with spotlights beaming directly on his bow tie. With the coach on one side and general manager on the other, Sherman held up a Seattle Seahawks jersey with his named across the back.
When Sherman entered the NFL as a fifth-rounder, there was no fanfare. That all came on Wednesday as Sherman became the latest piece of the Super Bowl champions to be locked up for the long term.
“I guess this is how it feels to be a first rounder,” Sherman said after signing a four-year contract extension with the Seahawks that will make him one of the highest-paid cornerbacks in NFL history.
Much in the tenor of doing things the way he wants, Sherman unveiled the extension on his website before the team could make the announcement. The two-time, first-team All-Pro selection wrote the deal will pay him $57.4 million with $40 million guaranteed and will keep him in a Seahawks uniform through the 2018 season. The deal includes a reported $11 million signing bonus.
It’s a massive deal for a player who earned $375,000 in base salary as a rookie in 2011. But Sherman insisted the money will not change the approach or attitude that has made him one of the top defensive players in football and a magnet for attention.
“I’m still the guy scrapping for a spot. You never lose that mentality. 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 and he’s still the ragged dog that you got off the streets,” Sherman said. “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.”
Sherman’s deal wraps up a solid offseason for the Seahawks prior to the NFL draft. Seattle re-signed defensive end Michael Bennett before the start of free agency. They then reached extensions with coach Pete Carroll through 2016 and a four-year, $40 million extension with All-Pro free safety Earl Thomas.
“I’d like to thank Paul Allen for anteing up,” Sherman said.
Sherman said it was important to get the extension done before the start of the 2014 season and take any lingering doubt about his future out of the equation. He made a point of thanking nearly everyone on the Seahawks defense during his opening remarks. Sherman wanted to spend his career playing alongside Thomas and Kam Chancellor as part of a secondary that has developed into the best in the league. Sherman and Thomas will be under contract through 2018 and Chancellor is under contract through 2017.
“It was headed in the right direction for several weeks,” Seattle general manager John Schneider said. “I thought it was time to get it tied up and let everybody move forward.”
Despite the pedigree of being a fifth-round pick, the one thing Sherman has never lacked is bravado. Whether it was getting in the face of Tom Brady after a win in 2012, offseason social media arguments with other players or his comments about Michael Crabtree after the NFC championship game, Sherman has never hidden the swagger.
“The thing I struggle with Richard on is his confidence level,” Schneider joked.
Displaying his self-confidence has made Sherman a target for criticism. It was never louder than the gap between the NFC championship and Super Bowl when Sherman’s shouting postgame rant on national television overshadowed the play he made to clinch the conference title against rival San Francisco.
But all those moments have made Sherman known outside of football and his consecutive seasons with eight interceptions. It’s why he was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by TIME Magazine and invited to the White House Correspondents’ dinner last weekend.
“It’s a great statement about a young man that demonstrated an extraordinary belief in himself and dedication to be a nerd in high school way back in his Dominguez (High School) days when he was a track star and a football player,” Carroll said. “He was always in the classroom working on his stuff. He had a real vision on what he could become way back then and see it come all the way through to this day today, it is a new beginning for Richard and his career with all that goes along that makes this guy up. He’s really special.”