There may be no one better to ignite a struggling secondary than a charter member of the “Legion of Boom.”
Five-time All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman was expected to arrive in Tampa Bay around 10 p.m. Tuesday and visit with the Bucs Wednesday, the Tampa Bay Times has confirmed.
The Bucs rank last in the NFL in pass defense, allowing 338.3 yards per game. They already have lost starting cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting (elbow) for an indefinite period and watched his replacement, Jamel Dean, exit in the first quarter of Sunday’s loss to the Rams with a knee injury.
But days before Dean was injured, coach Bruce Arians acknowledged the team was exploring the possibility of signing the 33-year-old Sherman, whose last full season was with the 49ers in 2019.
Stymied by the lack of a pass rush and some miscommunication on the back end, the Bucs let veteran Matthew Stafford pass for 343 yards and four touchdowns in the Rams’ 34-24 triumph on Sunday.
Asked afterward about the possibility of bringing in more corners, Arians mentioned the team’s recent addition of two veterans (Rashard Robinson, Pierre Desir) to the practice squad, but added, “We’ll make that decision on the plane, on the ride home.”
Complicating matters may be the fact that Sherman serves as his own agent, and his price tag could be daunting. Still, the Bucs recently restructured the contract of left guard Ali Marpet to create $4 million of cap space for 2021.
Sherman has some leverage, having also drawn interest from the Saints, 49ers and Seahawks. If things can be ironed out financially, some legal issues still must be navigated.
Sherman was arrested in July after he tried to force his way into a family member’s home after crashing his SUV in a construction zone. He pleaded not guilty to five misdemeanor charges, including driving under the influence and second-degree criminal trespass, and has been speaking to a therapist since the arrest, NFL Network reported.
A first DUI offense results in a three-game suspension, according to a provision in the NFL’s substance-abuse policy added in 2020. But those sanctions wouldn’t apply until Sherman’s case is adjudicated.
“I’m grateful for what happened,” Sherman said recently in a one-on-one interview with USA Today’s Doug Farrar. “It was a good eye-opening experience, a good chance for me to get the help I needed and have some conversations that I hadn’t had before.”
The Bucs lack an experienced leader in their secondary, where the oldest starter is fourth-year cornerback Carlton Davis.
In some ways, the situation has parallels to the Bucs signing receiver Antonio Brown halfway through the 2020 season.
Brown was about to come off an eight-game suspension for violating the league’s personal conduct policy, and the Bucs had mounting injuries to their receiving corps following a loss at Chicago last season.
Sherman’s legal issues are as daunting, but he could jumpstart a secondary that has been plagued by poor communication and a breakdown of its technique.
“I’ve got a decade worth of resume,” Sherman told Farrar. ”That should stand more firmly than a momentary lapse in judgment. I’ve got a decade of character and tape to be judged off of. If you’re judging me off of a momentary lapse, I’m probably not the player for you either way.”
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