Lions' whiff on Richard Sherman appears to be costly

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News
Richard Sherman

Allen Park — A few days before the Detroit Lions re-signed Nevin Lawson and added DeShawn Shead this March, the team checked the price tag on Richard Sherman.

The former All-Pro cornerback, coming off a devastating Achilles injury, had been let go by the Seattle Seahawks. A day later, while representing himself in contract talks, Sherman negotiated a three-year, $27 million deal with the San Francisco 49ers, who host the Lions on Sunday.

Before he signed, Sherman acknowledged the Lions were among the teams that called to express interest, but were unable to match the 49ers’ financial commitment.

Sherman bet on himself, securing just $7 million in guarantees in the package, but if Week 1 is indicative of his long-term outlook, this lottery ticket has a good chance of paying out.

More: View from the other side: Lions vs. 49ers

More: Lions' confident WR Kenny Golladay lets his play do talking

In the 49ers’ season opener against the Vikings, Sherman played all 71 defensive snaps and was among the team’s highest-graded players, according to Pro Football Focus.

“I thought he played really well,” Lions coach Matt Patricia said after reviewing the game film. “He had some really good situations out there where he made some really nice plays. Like I said, his transition, it looks good. He’s able to get back to the ball. (In) some of the situations I think, ‘All right, maybe we have a window here or we have a chance to kind of throw the ball in there,’ and his length just keeps showing up, his ability to get that hand in there and knock it away. He does a really good job of reading receivers. He reads the quarterback a little bit and can make some of those plays, but his read on the body language of receivers running routes is excellent.”

Beyond the physical skills, Patricia noted Sherman’s mental acumen for the game remains a cut above.

“He studies film a lot,” Patricia said. “This guy is extremely smart now, you want to talk football with a guy like that. And he can just tell you routes, he can tell you receiver strong points, weak points. He can tell you coordinators’ tendencies. He just really does a good job of studying the game.”

As it currently stands, missing out on Sherman looks like a bigger deal than originally assumed. Shead, Lawson and former second-round pick Teez Tabor all struggled throughout the preseason. Shead was waived as part of Detroit's final roster cuts and Tabor was limited to a backup role in the season opener, playing two snaps as a temporary injury replacement for Darius Slay.

Lawson, starting opposite Slay, continued to struggle. Lawson was targeted six times by the New York Jets on Monday, giving up four receptions, including a touchdown where he was bumped out of position by a pick. The cornerback was also flagged for pass interference.

Lions at 49ers

Kickoff: 4 p.m. Sunday, Levi’s Stadium, San Francisco

TV/radio: Fox/760

Records: Both teams are 0-1

Line: 49ers by 6