Richard Sherman defends his self-negotiated contract

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As the dust settles on the contract that agent Richard Sherman negotiated with the 49ers for his only client, cornerback Richard Sherman, the agent is defending the work that he did. As expected.

That’s the genius of the low-key lowball deal that 49ers executive Paraag Marathe negotiated with Sherman for Sherman. Sherman the client always will boast that it was a great deal, to justify the work of Sherman the agent. And Sherman the client/agent is/are boasting.

I don’t think any agent in the business could have done a better job of negotiating this contract,” Sherman told Peter King of “As long as I’m content with what I’m making, nothing else matters to me.”

That second sentence seems to undercut the first one, coming off as a recognition that maybe an agent could have done better but that doesn’t matter because I’m happy with the deal that I negotiated for myself. Sherman has to be happy with the deal. Ego and pride will prevent him from ever calling it was it is: A substandard deal, one that any good, experienced agent could have improved upon easily and quickly.

Consider this claim from Sherman: “Once I make a Pro Bowl, $8 million the next year is guaranteed for me.” That’s not technically true.

If Sherman makes the Pro Bowl in 2018, an $8 million injury guarantee vests for him on the third day of the 2019 league year. Which means that the 49ers can cut him before that day in the middle of March with no financial consequence — even if he’s injured. (The 49ers would be on the hook for up to $1.2 million, if Sherman can’t play in 2019 due to a 2018 injury, but that’s a protection baked in to the CBA.)

Injury guarantees that vest at a later date are very rare, at best. What’s the point of injury protection if a player must carry injury risk before getting the protection? Sherman can brag all he wants about studying past contracts (he said he spent 12 hours looking at other deals), but that’s not nearly enough to understand nuances that competent agents have gleaned from hundreds if not thousands of hours of negotiation, study, analysis, debate, and everything else that goes into understanding how to get the best deals possible for their clients.

Consider this claim from Sherman: “It gives me the ability to control my destiny. The 49ers have skin in the game. I have skin in the game. In my former contract, no matter what I did this year, nothing would be guaranteed to me next year. I couldn’t feel secure in my contract. Now, if I play the way I know I’m capable of playing, I know I’m going to get paid.”

Again, nothing is guaranteed next year until the third day of the next league year. Even then, the 49ers can still dump Sherman if he’s healthy up until April 1, a common Paraag Marathe device aimed at giving the team multiple weeks to look elsewhere for help before committing to the players they currently have under contract.

The best way for Sherman to control his destiny would have been to do a one-year deal, or at worst to use making the Pro Bowl not as a way to trigger future guarantees but as a catalyst for voiding the final two years.

The 49ers are in an awkward spot on this. They need to make it look like they didn’t fleece Sherman, even if they know that they did. So they need to throw an attaboy or two in the direction of Sherman the agent for the work he did on behalf of Sherman the player.

Consider this quote from Marathe: “This is how much Richard studied this. We had a clause in a bunch of our contracts saying players got an incentive for making the Pro Bowl, even if they were medically excused from playing in the Pro Bowl. Richard said, ‘What if I’m voted to the Pro Bowl and I can’t go because we’re in the Super Bowl?’ We thought, He’s right. Great observation. We changed the wording.”

Hang on a second, Paraag. Do you mean to suggest that, if Sherman had made it to the Pro Bowl but was not able to play in the Pro Bowl because the team made it to the Super Bowl, the 49ers would have screwed him out of the benefit of making the Pro Bowl?

Sure. Right. Fine. So Sherman secured protection against something that never would have happened, and that makes it a good deal — a deal as good as anything any agent in the entire industry could have negotiated, according to the non-agent who negotiated it.

38 responses to “Richard Sherman defends his self-negotiated contract

  1. I think he did a great job ! he saved the 3-5% on paying an Agent,Stayed in the Division,PLAYING in Cali which he Loves ..then he gets a 8 mil $ bonous for pro-bowl which everybody makes,EVEN Tyrod Taylor made it one year!!!!on the average he makes 13 mil a yr…HOW DID HE DO A BAD JOB ????..

  2. Paraag is simply pointing out that due to Sherman’s diligence he noticed a flaw in the language of the contract that had to be corrected.

    49ers would have taken care of Sherman regardless though. 49ers are known for doing good business and taking care of their performers.

  3. He honestly got everything he could’ve wanted from the deal. I don’t see the issue, he saved a ton of money he would have spent on an agent, came home to Calfornia and has pretty easy incentives given his stature in the L. Remember, the Pro Bowl is a popularity contest, and he’s easily one of the more popular players in the NFL.

  4. kennylc2015 says:
    March 12, 2018 at 10:16 am
    Honestly. It’s his money. It’s his career. Why in the world would I want to rip him on that?

    Agreed. I do not like when other people have bad things to say about player contracts. That player agrees and signs on the dotted line. This is his decision and whether we think it was fair or unfair is irrelevant. We don’t live his life, we don’t know what he has saved…i am sure he doesn’t spend too many game checks as he probably lives off his endorsements this was probably not about the money anyways as he just wanted to play for an organization that still believes in him

  5. The players that SHOULD represent themselves are 1st Round Draftees. The salary is slotted and the years are fixed – as long as they know to avoid offset language (Joey Bosa snag).

  6. My takeaway from all of this, the 49ers are still never going to win anything as long as a snake like Paraag Marathe who ran off Harbaugh is a prominent figure in the organization. He’s good at making Jed money though, which is all that matters.

  7. only Seattle fans are thumbing down this !!!!…He proved his worth..BOOM !!!!!!! Good for you Richard !!!!!!!

  8. redlikethepig says:
    March 12, 2018 at 9:56 am

    He thinks he’s a lot smarter than he really is.


    Not a Sherman fan, but you’ve gotta be pretty smart to go to Stanford… just saying.

  9. It is his life! If he doesn’t want an agent he doesn’t need to hire one. I don’t get the big deal unless agents are worried that other players will take his example and ditch them!

  10. Sherman’s negotiating skills may have cost him a few dollars by the time all is said and done but if he’s happy with the contract, that’s all that matters. Yes, no one should expect him to admit he made a mistake or two along the way, but his career earnings (to date) of over $35 million won’t leave him scrambling for his next meal.

  11. So him defending signing this contract w/o an agent, is like you writing the article defending the article you wrote about him needing an agent?

  12. Played at Stanford. He did a pretty good job on this contract. One thing that came out in recent days is that he let the Seahawks, Lions and one other team know what he was willing to sign for in SF, and they all backed off due to incentives.

  13. Just think of the saving that an would provide agent by pointing out the difference in state income taxes between CA and MI. In a post earlier it was $1.0 million which is greater than the 3% agent fee. There is an old saying about a client representing himself but I’m sure others have pointed it out already.

  14. To be fair, he’s not that fast. He’s just a confident with extremely long arms, elite strength, excellent ball skills and elite intelligence and instincts.

  15. Sherman got Fleeced by a slick Stanford business grad on this contract. Lets be honest though, this move is strictly one of spite, where Richard operates so well from. Someones always doing him wrong, and Seattle will now be the team that “dissed” him and he will make it his mission to beat them. The problem is, he’s one year older, one year slower, and coming off a major injury. He got torched by Julio Jones and DeAndre Hopkins last year, so , if he’s healthy, he’ll be OK, but hes on the downward slide of his career. Seattle did the right thing, and unfortunately for Sherman, he got schooled on the contract by a fellow Stanford Grad. Sherm will be done in a couple years.

  16. Intead of rubbing Sherman’s nose in it and trying to me him look stupid, why not look at it for what it is…100% win/win..If he plays up to his previous standards (big if, I know) he gets paid very well for a 30 year old cornerback, and the 49ers have themselves a great defensive anchor player. If he doesn’t play well or recover from his injury, the 49ers aren’t out a whole lot!

  17. Chris Guest says:
    March 12, 2018 at 11:08 am
    Just think of the saving that an would provide agent by pointing out the difference in state income taxes between CA and MI. In a post earlier it was $1.0 million which is greater than the 3% agent fee. There is an old saying about a client representing himself but I’m sure others have pointed it out already.

    I know, right? Seeing as how even casual football (and non-football) fans know there is a difference in state taxes, I’m sure the dumb players have no idea this exists. Especially since many of them have worked in more states over their careers than the average person will their entire life.

  18. Just think of the saving that an would provide agent by pointing out the difference in state income taxes between CA and MI. In a post earlier it was $1.0 million which is greater than the 3% agent fee. There is an old saying about a client representing himself but I’m sure others have pointed it out already.


    Or maybe he didn’t want to play in Michigan over his home state, and given all his earnings $1M wasn’t worth it to him. But I suppose it’s possible the guy who has worked with an agent in the past and plays with 53 guys every year who bounce around between states and are represented by agents just didn’t know that states have different tax rates.

  19. keep in mind that many people who are too greedy actually end up with nothing. A prime example is those who wanted Bernie Sanders or bust. They did not end up with Sanders so they went bust. Charmin got what he could have gotten from the 49ers. If he had asked for more, the 49ers may simply withdraw their offer. Another way to say it is to not let the perfect be the enemy of the good. He got a good deal, not a perfect deal. That is better than no deal.

  20. I’m sure Sherman knows the difference in taxation. He also understands the value of living in the Bay Area has it’s perks. He’s California born and bread. The Bay Area may be expensive, but it’s also a fantastic place to live if you can afford it. California dreaming!

  21. There’s also a potential to expand his brand and make more money in the Silicon Valley era. Life after football is factored in when making these decisions.

  22. It’s true that an agent likely would have landed him a better deal. But the 49ers have to give him an atta boy to make him feel like he didn’t get fleeced? I don’t think that logic holds. He’d feel miffed whether Sherman negotiated his own unfair contract, or the 49ers got his agent to.

  23. Sherman is the player and he has a right to make his own decisions. No one else’s business what Sherman does.

  24. An injured player with 2 recovering achilles with an unknown player future negotiates a contract on his own. And a team agrees to sign him to a contract to play for a team which is #1 on that players list. And the player is happy. Whose business is it but the player who signed the contract. But yeah, we get where attorney’s want to protect the livelihood of other attorney’s.

  25. He thinks he’s a lot smarter than he really is.


    Not a Sherman fan, but you’ve gotta be pretty smart to go to Stanford… just saying.


    Not necessarily, even private schools have to meet quotas, regardless of intelligence, unfortunately. I am not saying he is or he is not smart, simply not guaranteed. I knew a few PhD grads from Princeton—- not too bright. Just saying

  26. So much for Stanford being a beacon of higher learning. Sherman along with many in pro sports cannot formulate a coherent, grammatically, correct, sentence if he tried. How do these universities retain any credibility? Bottom line is Sherman was overrated in Seattle, is run of the mill now, and will be sticking up 7/11’s in a couple yrs.

  27. you don’t have to listen to sherman long to realize he’s a knot head. stanford signed him to increase football revenue, not beef up their reputation in molecular biology.

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