Raiders coach Jon Gruden was not subtle this week about his interest in 49ers free-agent cornerback Richard Sherman.
The two men connected on an episode of the Cris Collinsworth Podcast featuring Richard Sherman. Gruden said he was looking for an “alpha” for the Raiders’ defensive backfield.
“If you’re available and interested, maybe you and I can get together at some point off-air,” Gruden said.
So was the conversation between Gruden and Sherman just entertainment or is there genuine interest between the two sides that could lead to a Las Vegas wedding?
“I think it’s both,” Sherman told NBC Sports Bay Area during a Super Bowl week appearance on behalf of Jack in the Box’s “Super-Jack’d Monday” meals.
Sherman, who acts as his own agent, suggested playing for the Raiders next season is a legitimate possibility. He acknowledged there might have been some showmanship involved, too.
“All of this sports is just a big freakin’ reality TV show, as you know,” Sherman said. “But I think there’s legitimate interest. They have a good team. It’s going to be a conversation. There will be a conversation with a few teams and I’ll make the decision that’s best for me and my family, and off we go.”
Sherman dismissed the notion that Gruden was breaking NFL rules by tampering. The 49ers have sole negotiating rights with Sherman until the league-wide negotiating window opens in mid-March.
“I don’t think he was tampering,” Sherman said. “I think it was a good conversation, good entertainment. And if anybody knows how to entertain people and keep them on the edge of their seats, it’s Jon Gruden.”
Sherman, who turns 33 next month, expects to hit the free-agent market and sign elsewhere after three seasons with the 49ers. In December, he told NBC Sports Bay Area he did not expect to return to the 49ers “unless something miraculous happens.”
Sherman said that is still his belief.
“Nothing’s changed at all,” Sherman said. “The conversations continue to reaffirm that.
“It’s not sad conversations or anything of that nature, both sides being really happy with how things turned out and, obviously, circumstances are tough, so both sides have to do what’s best for them. But it’s still a great relationship.”
Sherman was named to the NFL All-Decade team for the 2010s. He is a five-time Pro Bowl player and three-time All-Pro selection.
After earning a spot on the NFC Pro Bowl team in 2019 with the 49ers, Sherman was available for just five games last season due to a calf injury.