Detroit Lions: 5 players who may follow Robert Saleh in free agency

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
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Detroit Lions
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If the Detroit Lions were to hire Dearborn native Robert Saleh to be their next head coach, here are five players he may bring with him.

As the Detroit Lions continue their extensive search for their next head coach, I can’t help but wonder who someone like Robert Saleh may bring to the organization with him from the San Francisco 49ers.  You can make a strong argument that Saleh’s coaching performance in 2020 is greater than in 2019.

In 2019 en route to a Super Bowl birth Saleh had a juggernaut of a defense at his fingertips.  Saleh was like an excited disc-jockey excited to push all of the buttons with not much that could go wrong with the talent deployed on the field.  In 2020 it’s been much different.  The 49ers have been stricken with a plethora of injuries forcing Saleh to scheme a top-ten defense with has-beens and lesser talented players, which he’s successfully accomplished.

Saleh isn’t just a ball of energy that players love; he’s the defensive genius that Detroit Lions’ fans were promised when the organization hired Matt Patricia.

Here are five pending free agents Saleh could potentially bring to the Motor City.

Richard Sherman

The future Hall Of Fame cornerback most famous for his on-field postgame outburst while being interviewed by Erin Andrews, when he took exception to the 49ers trying to score a game-winning touchdown to Michael Crabtree while Sherman had been in coverage.

Recently, Richard Sherman praised his current defensive coordinator, Saleh, saying the Detroit Lions need to hire him.

Sherman isn’t the same player he once was during his time in Seattle anchoring a defense nicknamed the ‘Legion of Boom,’ but he’s still a serviceable veteran corner that excels in Saleh’s three-deep zone defense.   With Sherman’s greatest weakness as he’s aged being beat over the top in man-to-man coverage, he’s provided safety help over the top in Saleh’s scheme, or simply playing soft coverage keeping everything in front of him.

Most of the time, Sherman is responsible for his deep third, allowing a linebacker or nickel-corner to have the ‘flat’ responsibility, avoiding having Sherman playing man-to-man later in his career.

Saleh isn’t afraid to be creative.  Earlier this season, the 49ers lined up Sherman as a free safety to confuse Rams quarterback Jared Goff, not just one play, but for a significant amount of time during the contest.

According to Pro Football Focus, we’re just a year removed from Sherman compiling a league-best 88.9 grade, but that number has drastically fallen to 67.7 in 2020, a career-worst.  For much of the 2020 season, Sherman joined a host of his 49er teammates on Injured Reserve, limiting him to just five starts to date.

Sherman has played 332 total snaps during those five starts, being targeted just 14 times, yielding eight receptions totaling 87 yards and a score.

Sherman is a pending free agent and won’t command a salary to which he’s used to.  Sherman is coming off of a deal that pays him nearly $14 million per season.  After publically supporting Saleh, it’s not out of the question to see the veteran free agent eager to follow his defensive coordinator to his next destination.

I’d suspect Sherman will earn somewhere around $10 million per season, and the fact that he represents himself rather than having an agent who he would usually pocket a percentage of his deal leaving Sherman the ability to sign more of a team-friendly deal knowing it’s all going into his bank account.

There is a possibility Sherman moves to free safety to finish out his career as he did against the Rams.  If that is the case, Charles Woodson proved it could be done at an elite level, and that shouldn’t deter a team from considering signing Sherman late in his career.