Richard Sherman explains how players discuss racism in NFL locker rooms

Richard Sherman explains how players discuss racism in NFL locker rooms

As protests continue across the country in the wake of George Floyd's death in Minneapolis police custody, NFL players from around the league are speaking out on racism, police brutality and vowing to help enact change.

Not all players have been in lockstep, though. New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees drew widespread criticism Wednesday for saying he still believed players kneeling during the anthem was "disrespecting the flag." Many players including some of Brees' teammates and 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman called out the quarterback for his tone-deaf remarks. Brees apologized Thursday morning for "missing the mark" with his comments.

Sherman, who is one of the most respected players across the NFL, doesn't think Floyd's death and public cries for change will alter the way race and racism is talked about in NFL locker rooms.

"I don't think it will be much different," Sherman told Mike Freeman of Bleacher Report. "The locker room is different from society in that we are able to have conversations out of a place of respect, more times than not, because the stereotypes of society have usually been removed, or faded by the time people get to the NFL. You learn to at least respect your teammate regardless of race, and come to have a genuine love and appreciation [for your teammate].

"Much different than society, where stereotypes dictate behavior."

Sherman said Brees was "beyond lost" with his comments about kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality and systemic racism. He also told NBC Sports Boston's Phil Perry that the "majority didn't want to hear" the message that former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick was trying to send when he started his peaceful protest in 2016.

[RELATED: Brees apologizes for 'insensitive' comments on players kneeling]

Floyd, a 46-year-old Black male, died in Minneapolis police custody after Derek Chauvin, a white officer, knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes while three other officers watched. Video showed Floyd telling the officers he couldn't breathe but Chauvin didn't relent. It was later announced Floyd died in police custody.

After widespread protests, Chauvin was arrested Friday. He's charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. The other three officers, J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao, were arrested Wednesday and are charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder.

The second-degree charge against Chauvin carries a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison.

While Brees' comments showed he's part of America's problem and not the solution, a number of other white quarterbacks have spoken out and vowed to help make change. Raiders quarterback Derek Carr vowed to stop "sticking to sports" as he tries to unite people.

Sherman's comments about the difference between NFL locker rooms and society were shown Wednesday when Saints defensive lineman Cameron Jordan said he spoke with Brees after his comments and asked him to "walk a mile in my shoes."

"In our locker room, we hold people accountable," Jordan told NFL Media's Mike Silver. "I've already talked to 10 to 12 teammates, and a coach or two, and with the man himself (Brees). You have to put him legitimately in our shoes, and at the same time, I don't want to force-feed him. I want to walk in his shoes, too. [The national anthem] is a source of pride for him. But he has to know what that act is all about, and what it really represents.

"Things have to be talked about," Jordan later continued. "If I'm not my brother's keeper, I'm doing a disservice to him and to our teammates."

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What Raheem Mostert's agent says client wants in 49ers trade demand

What Raheem Mostert's agent says client wants in 49ers trade demand

Raheem Mostert's trade demand carries another motive, according to his agent.

Within an hour of announcing Mostert's trade demand Wednesday, Brett Tessler told NFL Media's Ian Rapoport that Mostert "simply" wants his salary "in line" with teammate Tevin Coleman's.

Coleman's $4.55 million base salary is nearly $2 million more than Mostert's $2.575 million, according to Over the Cap. Mostert's salary is not guaranteed, whereas $2 million of Coleman's became guaranteed on April 1. Coleman can earn nearly $4.9 million after workout and roster bonuses, and Mostert can make up to $2.825 million if he hits all his roster bonuses.

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Mostert (151) and Coleman (158) had nearly the same number of total touches during the regular season, with each player rushing an identical 137 times. But Mostert led the team in regular-season rushing yards (772) and rushing touchdowns (eight), becoming the 49ers' top back down the stretch and having over twice as many carries (117) and touches (126) as Coleman (55; 58) from Week 13 onward.

Prior to that stretch, Mostert had 113 rushing attempts and 127 touches in the preceding 31 games. Coleman, meanwhile, signed with the 49ers as a free agent in 2019 after averaging 165.5 touches per season in four years with the Atlanta Falcons.

[RELATED: How Mostert's 49ers trade demand shows price of success]

Whether the 49ers meet either of Mostert's demands remains to be seen.

He still has two years left on his contract (including 2020), and the 49ers currently have the NFL's eighth-highest salary-cap number on running backs. San Francisco has just over $12 million in salary-cap space, but that number conceivably could diminish if star tight end George Kittle's contract extension includes a reworked 2020 cap number.

Kittle's set to count just over $2.2 million against the cap this season. Philadelphia Eagles tight end Zach Ertz, who has the NFL's highest cap number at the position, counts just shy of $12.5 million against the cap.

How Raheem Mostert's 49ers trade demand shows costly price of success

How Raheem Mostert's 49ers trade demand shows costly price of success

Raheem Mostert proved his worth to the 49ers last season in a greatly expanded role.

Now, he and his agent are seeking a greatly expanded contract.

The 49ers are learning that success comes at a significant cost.

Defensive tackle DeForest Buckner, the team MVP, signed a contract that pays him $21 million a season after the 49ers dealt him to the Indianapolis Colts. The 49ers opted to save the money and pick up a first-round draft pick.

The 49ers are likely conserving cap room for tight end George Kittle’s next contract. After Kittle earned a total of $1.665 million in base salaries in his first three NFL seasons, his next contract will make him the highest-priced tight end in the league with a deal that shatters the current mark of $10.5 million a year.

Teams are always looking for bargains, such as Kittle and Mostert. But here’s the thing: Bargains do not remain bargains for very long.

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Once a player under-performs on his contract, a team has the option of cutting ties and moving on. Likewise, a player whose production exceeds his pay has the right to ask for more money or request a trade.

Mostert’s agent, Brett Tessler, said Wednesday he requested a trade after “months of unproductive talks” with the 49ers. He said he wants the club to adjust Mostert’s contract to a figure that falls in line with what a player of his caliber should receive.

Mostert signed a three-year, $8.65 million deal with the 49ers in March 2019 as a restricted free agent.

Mostert is scheduled to earn $2.575 million this season with $250,000 also available in per-game roster bonuses. His agent is seeking a deal that compensates Mostert at the level of teammate Tevin Coleman, who is scheduled to make $4.55 million in base pay with another $250,000 available in pre-game roster bonuses.

The 49ers almost certainly do not want to set the precedent of tearing up multi-year contracts any time an agent asks that his client be given a raise.

Mostert opened last season as a special-teams ace and ended the season as the 49ers’ leading rusher and playoff standout.

He rushed for a team-high 772 yards and eight touchdowns with a 5.6-yard average in the regular season. Mostert added 336 yards and five touchdowns with a 6.3 average in the postseason, including his club-record 220-yard, four-touchdown performance against the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship Game.

Mostert’s presence allowed the 49ers to trade running back Matt Breida to the Miami Dolphins during the draft.

Mostert headlines the team’s group of running backs, though he has never started a game in his NFL career. Coleman returns, as does Jerick McKinnon, who did not play for the second season in a row after his ACL graft did not heal properly. Jeff Wilson, a second-year player, enters camp as the 49ers’ fourth running back.

The 49ers also signed running backs JaMychal Hasty (Baylor) and Salvon Ahmed (Washington) as undrafted rookies.

At this stage of the offseason, there does not appear to be a clean and easy solution for both sides.

The 49ers had Mostert locked into his contract for two more seasons, and they are not likely to budge. Mostert has the right to seek a better contract. But this is where it gets sticky: There has to be another team willing to pay Mostert the price he wants while also giving the 49ers fair compensation in a trade.

[RELATED: Mostert reveals how he stays motivated after breakout 2019]

The 49ers rarely had these problems during the years they were stumbling around at the bottom of the NFL just trying to piece together a roster of competent players.

Now, the 49ers have a roster of productive players. And that leads to a whole new set of problems.