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Richard Sherman makes feelings clear about negative assessments of 49ers deal

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Richard Sherman, dressed in a bright red tailor-made suit for his first meeting with the Bay Area media Tuesday, made it clear how he feels about the negative assessments of his deal with the San Francisco 49ers and why he valued the chance to negotiate it.

"It was really important to me," said Sherman, who served as his own agent. "I think that a lot of times in our league there are players that have the ability to do that and have the ability to structure their own deals and really take advantage of just being in control of their own destiny.

"There are great agents in our game that take care of our players, make sure our players are ready for life after football, their finances, whatever the case may be. And then there are some agents who negotiate a deal in 2006 and don't talk to their client again until 2010, and that's the thing we're trying to avoid and I'm trying to avoid.

"I didn't feel like I needed an agent. I felt like I knew contracts well enough and I felt like coming off the Achilles [injury], there's going to be negotiation points, there's going to be give and takes on both sides, and I felt comfortable with that."

In the days since he signed with the 49ers after a tedious, five-hour-plus negotiation with general manager John Lynch and chief strategy officer Paraag Marathe, Sherman has seen and heard plenty about the disapproval of the contract. The three-year deal could be worth up to $39.15 million, though it effectively would only pay him that much money if he returns to his previous All-Pro form after a ruptured right Achilles suffered last season.

Sherman also wrote a piece for The Players' Tribune on Tuesday that offered further details on the contract in an effort to shed light on some of the points that have been criticized.

For example, Sherman wrote that he has a $2 million roster bonus that he will receive if he can pass a physical before Nov. 11, which is the final day teams can activate a player from the physically unable to perform list. Along with that, Sherman believes he will be back on the field in May or June and be ready to go in time for training camp. That timetable would have him able to earn the roster bonus with time to spare.

Which is why Sherman -- who received a $3 million signing bonus -- is counting on a total of $5 million guaranteed, more than the zero guaranteed dollars he had on the remaining year of his deal with Seattle.

"The biggest misconception is that it's a bad deal," Sherman said. "... If I'm basing it just going off my last year [of the deal] in Seattle, and you compare it, I got no money guaranteed and I'm coming off a ruptured Achilles. What security do I have there? ... That's really all that I wanted. And [if] I play at the level that I'm capable of, I feel security in the upcoming years and I feel comfortable with that and I'm great with it."

Sherman also said that at no point did Seattle ask him to take a pay cut, and though he offered the team a chance to match what the Niners offered, Seahawks general manager John Schneider declined.

Sherman said his biggest issue was with an apparent double standard between coverage of the deal he signed and the ones negotiated by agents who do team-friendly contracts but never receive similar critiques.

"I think the thing I'm most frustrated about is all the people that were so high on bashing this deal refuse to bash the agents that do awful deals every year," Sherman said. "There are agents out there that do $3 million fully guaranteed deals that look like $50 million deals. When a guy gets cut after two weeks or after a year and the guy only makes $5 million off a $50 million contract, nobody sits there and bashes the agent.

"... So I think that this was just one of those things where the agents feel uncomfortable with the player taking the initiative to do his own deal. That obviously puts a fire under them, it makes them more accountable for their actions because more players will do this."

Sherman said he has heard from "a lot" of players around the league who intend to negotiate their own contracts. Before he was released, Sherman spent time reading through copies of past contracts in the NFL Players Association database. He also enlisted the union to help him study the language and structure of contracts.

Now Sherman is expecting to see more players around the league follow in the footsteps of players like him and Chargers offensive tackle Russell Okung.

"I think it goes back to just educating our players in general on their own finances and being in control of your own life," Sherman said. "I think more of our players are."

While on the subject of player contracts, Sherman also offered some support for Eric Reid. The free-agent safety, who spent the past five seasons with the 49ers, has yet to sign with a new team almost a week into free agency.

Reid was the first player to kneel alongside Colin Kaepernick during the national anthem in protest of racial inequality and systemic oppression. Reidtook to Twitter last week to offer his opinion on how his protests might be affecting his job search.

Sherman said there is concern about Reid being unsigned.

"He played at a high level just about every year that he's played in this league," Sherman said. "He's made enough plays to be signed with a team and to make his money. ... I would think he's [among the] top-five, top-10 safeties in this league, so he deserves to be paid accordingly.

"So there is concern there because you would think a player of his caliber and his quality would be picked up by now. Great teams are still looking and people are still looking for players and I'm praying that he gets picked up. But if he doesn't, then I think there would be a conversation between the league office and the union on potential legal action."

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