Richard Sherman is set to be a free agent once again after three up-and-down seasons with the 49ers.
The rival turned voice of San Francisco's defense was a star in 2019 when healthy, helping lead the 49ers to the Super Bowl. But he missed two games his first season as a 49er, and only played five in 2020 with a calf injury. He also told NBC Sports Bay Area's Matt Maiocco towards the end of the season that he doesn't expect to be back because of the 49ers' salary-cap constraints.
“I’ve enjoyed my time,” Sherman said to Maiocco in early December. “I’ve loved every moment of it. And I wish we could continue it for a couple more years, but it’s not looking likely.”
Where will Sherman continue his career? Perhaps he'll be wearing Silver and Black.
Raiders coach Jon Gruden was on the latest "Cris Collinsworth Podcast featuring Richard Sherman," and the player and coach seemed to have mutual interest in one another.
“Richard Sherman, if you are a free agent, which there is a rumor you are, we are looking for an alpha presence in our secondary,” Gruden said, via 49ersWebZone.com. “Somebody that could play this Hawk 3-press technique with the read step. If you’re available and interested, maybe you and I can get together at some point off-air.”
It's easy to see Gruden being interested in Sherman. A big personality himself, Gruden knows his defense needs a veteran voice to push them towards the playoffs.
"There's a conversation to be had, for sure," Sherman said to Gruden. "I am free and available these days, fortunately, and unfortunately."
That conversation could happen next month. Free agency and the new league year begins March 17, when Sherman and a long list of 49ers are set to hit the open market. The Raiders could use him, too.
It's no secret the Raiders' defense struggled yet again this season. They allowed the seventh-most passing yards per game (263.3), were tied for 29th in interceptions (10) and allowed the 12th-highest passer rating (95.3). Trayvon Mullen will man one side of the field, but Damon Arnette is far from a sure thing.
Either way, the Raiders have a young secondary that could use some leadership. Perhaps Gruden found his answer.