Fullback Anthony Sherman has touched the ball just seven times for the Chiefs this season, but his worth to the offense was given validation Wednesday when the team announced it had reached a contract extension with him.
Sherman, 25, was set to become a free agent after this season. The extension is for three years and is worth up to $7 million.
“It’s huge,” Sherman said. “I definitely wanted to stay here and be a part of this team. We’re doing some good things. I wanted to stay in Kansas City. It was definitely good to get it out of the way.”
Sherman’s stat line this season is not eye-popping. He has two rushes for 8 yards and five catches for 49 yards and a touchdown.
But Chiefs coach Andy Reid said Sherman — a 5-foot-10, 242-pound fourth-year pro — is an important part of a team that has averaged 25 points per game, which ranks 12th in the league.
“In this offense — which isn’t the case in a lot of offenses in today’s football — the fullback ends up being an important part of that,” Reid said. “And with that, they’ve got to be good blockers and they’ve also got to be able to catch the football. He can do all of that and then on top of that, be one of your top special-teams players.”
Chiefs general manager John Dorsey echoed those sentiments in a release announcing the extension.
“It was important for us to keep Anthony here in Kansas City,” Dorsey said. “He brings a lot to our football team with not only his play, but his work ethic, leadership and character. He doesn’t get a lot of recognition at his position, but he has been a key component to our success as a team.”
By retaining Sherman, the Chiefs will keep a key piece to their sixth-ranked rushing offense. Sherman ranks among the league’s top fullbacks according to Pro Football Focus, which analyzes every snap of every NFL game.
“He’s a guy who we isolate a lot on blocks and who wins for us consistently,” Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith said. “A guy that can be a weapon for us as well in the pass game. You saw that play he made a couple of weeks ago against the Chargers. It’s rare for a fullback to be making a play like that.”
The play in question was Sherman’s 11-yard touchdown catch, in which he hauled in a screen pass, made two tacklers miss in the flat, sprinted to the middle of the field and rumbled across the goal line with four players bearing down on him.
The play was only the second touchdown of Sherman’s career, but it would be a mistake to analyze his impact via stats alone.
Sherman’s versatility extends to special teams, where he has recorded five tackles with a forced fumble this season. He had 12 special-teams tackles last season.
Smith said Sherman’s teammates overwhelmingly appreciate his lunch-pail mentality.
“I really don’t think there’s a guy in this locker room that’s not happy for him today,” Smith said. “So selfless, (puts the) team first, does it all — special-teams, fullback — we do a lot with him. You could ask him to go out there and play any position and he would do it. Just an incredibly selfless guy, a guy everybody loves to have around in the locker room. I’m so happy for him.”
Smith said Sherman’s passion rubs off on his teammates, too.
“He just has an infectious personality — he’s fun to have around,” Smith said. “He loves the game of football. He loves his teams. That’s infectious.”
Sherman, true to form, is quietly deferential about that specific point.
“I think Coach (Reid) and Dorsey did a great job of bringing guys in (where) that’s their whole attitude,” Sherman said. “I don’t think it’s necessarily me that’s rubbed off on other people. I think it’s the way they structured this team and that’s what makes it so good right now. Anyone is willing to do anything to help us win.”
Smith agreed with that point, too.
“It doesn’t get talked a lot about, but I think we have a selfless group in general, and everybody puts the team first,” Smith said. “That’s a unique thing in the NFL, in professional sports, I think. And it’s fun. Guys enjoy being around their teammates, enjoy coming to work and being around each other. It’s a fun group.”
And while Sherman is hesitant to embrace his role in that, it’s safe to say his personality, combined with his play on the field, made the Chiefs’ decision to extend his contract an easy one, especially given the way fullbacks have been slowly getting phased out of the modern game.
“There’s not a lot of them out there right now,” Reid said. “In college football, there’s not a lot of teams using a fullback. Most teams are going with more tight ends than fullbacks.”
Sherman, to be sure, appreciates the vote of confidence from the front office. Now he’s ready to keep on doing what he’s doing.
“It’s good to know you’re wanted somewhere,” Sherman said. “It’s a good feeling to have someone that wants you.”