NFL

Buccaneers set to turn to Sherman to repair ailing secondary

By Sports Desk September 28, 2021

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are dealing with significant injury issues at cornerback and may be about to turn to one of the best to play the position to solve those problems.

According to multiple reports, the Bucs are hosting five-time Pro Bowl cornerback Richard Sherman for a visit with a view to adding him to an ailing secondary.

Sunday's defeat to the Los Angeles Rams saw the Buccaneers lose Jamel Dean to a knee injury.

Reports suggest Dean has avoided a serious injury but, with nickel corner Sean Murphy-Bunting on injured reserve with a dislocated elbow, the Bucs require help at cornerback.

That may now come in the form of veteran Sherman. However, if he is to truly be an asset to the Bucs, he will need to bounce back from his performance in limited action in 2020.

Injuries restricted Sherman to five games for the San Francisco 49ers last year and, in his 150 pass coverage snaps as an outside corner, he allowed a burn – which is when a receiver wins his matchup with a defender on a play where is targeted – 72.2 per cent of the time.

That was the fourth-worst rate among outside corners with a minimum of 200 total snaps. Sherman allowed an average of 12.11 burn yards across his 18 targets, above the average of 10.51 and gave up a big play on 34.1 per cent of his targets (the average for outside corners was 27.2).

However, his burn yards per snap average of 1.45 yards was tied for 20th with Dean, speaking to the respect opposing quarterbacks still gave to Sherman through their unwillingness to test him in coverage. Indeed, Dean was targeted on 16.1 per cent of his coverage snaps compared to 12 per cent for Sherman.

And Sherman would likely point to his 2019 season as evidence he can still perform at the highest level.

A Pro Bowler and second-team All-Pro two seasons ago as he helped the 49ers to Super Bowl LIV, Sherman still gave up a burn on 50.9 per cent of targets, just above the average of 50.4 for outside corners with at least 200 snaps.

Yet his burn yards per snap rate of 1.17 was sixth-best for outside corners and his burn yards per target average of 7.54 over 55 targets was also sixth.

Seventh among outside corners with a big play percentage allowed of 16.9, Sherman has recent history of helping a contender come within touching distance of climbing the mountain.

Since then, he has endured injury issues and off-field troubles this offseason. However, if those problems are behind him and the Bucs feel he can get close to his 2019 levels, then Sherman is worth a low-risk signing for a Buccaneers team aiming to remain at the summit.

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