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Seattle Seahawks: Will Richard Sherman hold out or be traded if no deal?

Cornerback Richard Sherman talks after the Seahawks' 43-8 victory over the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII on Feb. 2
Cornerback Richard Sherman talks after the Seahawks' 43-8 victory over the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII on Feb. 2
Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

While Seahawks general manager John Schneider addresses the future of 19 free agents this offseason, he also will find time to sign All-Pro safety Earl Thomas to a contract extension.

Both Thomas and fellow Legion of Boom All-Pro Richard Sherman are entering the final year of their rookie contracts, and the Seahawks obviously want to follow up All-Pro safety Kam Chancellor's 2013 contract extension with deals for his Legion mates.

Thomas certainly will get one this year, but Sherman might have to wait.

Thomas figures to get an extension worth $8 million a year. It's what the highest-paid safeties make, and he certainly is worth what the market pays. Figure something like a five-year deal worth $40 million and around $20 million guaranteed. A new deal could actually lower his 2014 cap hit, and it should be one of the easier deals the Hawks make this offseason.

Sherman might be a more complicated negotiation though, and the Hawks might be willing to let him play out his rookie contract.

Of course, that also could lead to a holdout by Sherman. And, yes, there's also a chance it could lead to a trade.

As perhaps the best cornerback in the NFL, Sherman figures to command a huge contract – worth at least $10 million per season, with upwards of $30 million guaranteed.

Negotiations on an extension could be convoluted, especially if Sherman's agent uses Tampa Bay cornerback Darrelle Revis' contract as the measuring stick. Revis' deal averages $16 million, but he has no guaranteed money. The other top-paid corners (Brandon Carr, Cortland Finnegan, et al.) average around $10 million but have guarantees worth more than $20 million.

If Sherman's agent insists on getting guaranteed money on a deal worth $16 million a year, the Seahawks are unlikely to oblige and then seem likely to let Sherman play out his deal and see what happens in 2015, when they might avail themselves of the franchise tag (likely worth around $11 million).

A reasonable long-term deal for Sherman would be something like $55 million over five years, with upwards of $30 million in guarantees. But even that is a high price to pay for one player, especially when the Seahawks are going to be paying Thomas, Percy Harvin, Russell Okung, Russell Wilson and perhaps Michael Bennett or Cliff Avril at least $8 million a year (Marshawn Lynch will count $9 million in 2015 as well).

So many monster deals would limit Seattle's ability to do much else and put pressure on Schneider to hit on his drafts so they can play young, cheap players alongside the mega-moneymakers.

It is possible Sherman would consider holding out this year if he does not get an extension. Also keep in mind that Pete Carroll and Schneider might tire of Sherman's mouthy antics and decide to see whether some other team wants to trade for him.

He's an All-Pro talent, but he started as a fifth-round pick and Carroll – the preeminent secondary coach in the NFL – turned him into the star that he is. Carroll has created a Super Secondary School in Seattle. Look at what he and assistant coaches Kris Richard and Rocky Seto have done with Sherman, Chancellor, Brandon Browner, Byron Maxwell, Walter Thurmond and Jeremy Lane – none of them drafted before the fourth round.

While Sherman is their crowning cornerback prodigy, who's to say they cannot create another one like him?

The presence of Thomas and Chancellor also gives the Hawks some room for error and some time to develop guys.

Bottom line: Carroll and Schneider do not have to feel backed into a corner in the Sherman negotiations. And they just might let his contract play out before deciding how they want to proceed in 2015.

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