The idea of a Kansas City Chiefs roster without Anthony Sherman just doesn’t feel right. Yet in recent years, we’re starting to ask questions about his future on an annual basis. Once again, Sherman was the team’s fullback in 2020 on the heels of, once again, signing a one-year contract. In our first free agent profile of the 2021 offseason, let’s take a look at the Chiefs longtime fullback and ask key questions about whether both parties will dial up yet another year together.
Let’s not forget the small wonder of a trade that brought Sherman here in the first place. Shortly after John Dorsey arrived in Kansas City to be the new general manager, he decided what to do with a frustrating former second round pick in returner/cornerback Javier Arenas. He decided to ship Arenas to the Arizona Cardinals in a player-for-player swap in exchange for Sherman.
At the time, it likely felt like a worthy gamble for the Cardinals given the former second-round label applied on Arenas and the relative lack of impact for most fullbacks. However, Arenas would last a single unimpressive season in Arizona before moving on to the Atlanta Falcons. Meanwhile, no one could have known just how long Sherman would remain with the Chiefs from that trade forward—even Dorsey.
After two seasons in the desert, Sherman has put together an eight-year run with the Chiefs. Eight years. That makes him the longest tenured Chief alongside Eric Fisher and Travis Kelce (unless we’re back to counting Colquitt). In that span, he has 27 total rushes for 70 yards and 1 rushing score and 66 catches for 552 receiving yards and 4 touchdowns. While he’s had a few memorable offensive moments, the key takeaway here is that Sherman’s impact is largely felt on special teams and it’s been that way since 2014—the last time he had double digit targets in a single year.
The case for coming back
Here’s the reality when it comes to Sherman: it takes next to nothing to bring him back for another season. There was a time when Sherman was a salary cap consideration, and John Dorsey even gave him a three-year, $7 million deal in 2014. However, he’s been taking a series of one-year deals that come in around the veteran minimum since that three-year deal ended and he seems happy to do so.
Sherman has already gone on record this offseason saying he wants to be back for the sake of Super Bowl rings. As for the Chiefs, Sherman is a known commodity, a team leader, a fan favorite, and a reliable performer when called upon. Given the cost is negligible (literally only the top 51 contracts apply to the salary cap this offseason), the Chiefs have good reason to bring him back for another year.
The case for letting go
If the Chiefs let Sherman walk this offseason without any sort of overture for him to return, it will not be about the cost associated with it. Instead, it will be because the Chiefs are ready to use the roster spot on a player with a higher ceiling.
As much as it helps to know that Sherman is a known quantity and reliable performer, it’s also true then that his ceiling is also familiar. No one is going to ask him to do anything other than what we’ve already seen. That means a rarely used player is taking up an active roster spot for a player or position at which the Chiefs could otherwise experiment.
Remember, the Chiefs lost Marcus Kemp to the Miami Dolphins late in the season because he was out of allowed trips back and forth from the practice squad. That’s the sort of loss negated if the Chiefs had a spot available on the roster for that sort of performer. That’s not to say it’s Kemp vs. Sherman at all; instead, it’s just realizing that roster spots are limited and the Chiefs have to sdmake moves to compensate for the absence of available spots.
The roster spot might be more valuable than the clear value of Sherman.
The likelihood of a return: 80 percent
The whole roster spot vs. Sherman’s presence question is nothing new. It’s not as if Sherman was used much more in 2018 or 2019 than he was this last year. The clear answer from the Chiefs for the last few years is Sherman over any roster spot, so why would we expect them to do anything different in 2021? Expect another outrageous outfit to arrive in training camp.