By Todd Dybas The News Tribune
When asked about offseason priorities, Seattle Seahawks general manager John Schneider always mentioned cornerback Richard Sherman.
It was an obvious choice. Finding a way to give Sherman and free safety Earl Thomas contract extensions before they become unrestricted in free agents in 2015 appears a must.
Just how close they are to striking a new deal with Sherman is being debated.
Tuesday, CBS Sports reported a new contract for Sherman was on the horizon, likely arriving before the May 8 NFL draft. A few hours later, Pro Football Talk countered by saying a contract was not imminent.
One thing the reports agreed on is that the sides are talking about it.
Sherman has been a bargain for the Seahawks since being drafted in the fifth round in 2011. He’s an All-Pro cornerback being paid less than Seattle’s kicker and slightly more than the punter.
Sherman’s next contract is likely to be in the range of $13 million annually. That would make him the highest-paid cornerback in the NFL, which is likely what he wants and expects. Sherman’s current contract calls for a $1,431,000 base salary in 2014.
“We have no specific timetable (to reach a deal with Sherman),” Schneider said Tuesday on Sirius XM Radio. “We don’t really like to get into individual negotiations.”
The Seahawks have managed their offseason salary cap space around the thought of giving Sherman and Thomas contract extensions. According to the NFLPA Web site, the Seahawks have around $14.9 million remaining in salary cap space.
Schneider has said Tuesday the Seahawks project multiple salary-cap scenarios over a three-year period. They have spent little this offseason. Re-signing defensive lineman Michael Bennett before he was eligible for free agency was Seattle’s only big splash.
The NFL schedule will be announced tonight. The Seahawks’ opponents are known. In 2014, the NFC West plays the AFC West, which means a Super Bowl rematch with the Denver Broncos. Seattle beat the Broncos 43-8 to win Super Bowl XLVIII. The teams will also play in the preseason before the Broncos come to Seattle during the regular season. There is conjecture that could be the opener for both teams, or at least the home opener for Seattle.