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  • The Seattle Seahawks cut ties on Friday with star cornerback Richard Sherman <a title="Youth Luke Kuechly Jersey" href="">Youth Luke Kuechly Jersey</a> , who became one of the NFL’s premier cornerbacks during his seven seasons with the team.

    The team informed Sherman early in the day he would be released, and he confirmed the decision in a text message to The Associated Press. The move appeared to be building after he met with the team Wednesday to discuss his future. Sherman declined to comment after the meeting.

    ”Thank you for helping win championships, shape our culture and define success in Seattle,” the team said in a statement announcing the decision.

    ”We love you and your unwavering competitiveness, confidence and fierce passion for football and life. For that, you will always be a Hawk!”

    Sherman was an overlooked fifth-round draft pick who went on to become a two-time All-Pro who helped anchor a defense that was the league’s best for several years.

    He will be 30 years old going into next season and coming off an Achilles tendon injury that cost him half of the 2017 season.

    But the biggest reason for his release was financial. Sherman was due $13 million for the 2018 season and his release gives Seattle a salary cap savings of about $11 million. Sherman was released with a ”failed physical” injury designation.

    Sherman issued a statement later Friday thanking the Seahawks for ”taking a chance.”

    ”As this chapter comes to a close, I am looking forward to what the future holds,” Sherman said.

    Sherman became a star in Seattle, bringing a brash attitude and willingness to speak out on any topic to go along with his stellar play. His best seasons came in 2013 and 2014 when Seattle made two Super Bowl appearances and he has 32 interceptions.

    This may not be an end for Sherman and the Seahawks, depending on what he finds in free agency. Seattle could be open to bringing Sherman back at a reduced salary.

    Sherman was open to the idea of a new place to call home last offseason when Seattle engaged in trade discussions surrounding Sherman, but said his preference was to remain with the Seahawks.

    What’s still to be answered is how much of an impact the Achilles injury will have. Sherman has never been the fastest cornerback <a title="Authentic Mike Evans Jersey" href="">Authentic Mike Evans Jersey</a> , often using his exquisite technique and smarts to make up for less than elite speed. But recovery from Achilles injuries can often be troublesome and Sherman also had a cleanup surgery on his opposite ankle during the offseason.

    The questions about Sherman’s health account for Seattle’s position. The Seahawks don’t want to be paying a premium price for a cornerback entering the final year of his contract with an injury concern. Seattle could be sacrificing something greater, though. Sherman has been a locker-room leader and mentor to younger players. Shaquill Griffin spoke regularly about Sherman’s influence last year.

    But it’s clear the Seahawks are a team in transition, although it also remains to be seen how significant this makeover will be. Seattle already traded Michael Bennett to Philadelphia for two late-round draft picks and a little-used wide receiver. Kam Chancellor and Cliff Avril both have neck injuries, and it’s uncertain if they’ll play again. Earl Thomas said at the Pro Bowl he wants a new contract and may hold out. Seattle also released cornerback Jeremy Lane on Friday. The move with Lane will save Seattle $4.75 million against the salary cap in 2018.

    About the only sure thing for the defense is the return of All-Pro linebacker Bobby Wagner. General manager John Schneider, speaking at the NFL combine, called it a ”constant puzzle.”

    ”You’re trying to put stuff together all the time,” he said. ”It’s a big challenge.”

    Teammates have long stopped laughing at J.D. Martinez and his iPad.

    Boston’s All-Star slugger is serious about every swing he takes, even in batting practice, and he has the tape to prove it. Get to the park early enough for Red Sox BP, and you’ll see a pair of iPads attached to tripods, one on each side of the batting cage. When the 30-year-old Martinez steps up <a title="Womens Josh Norman Jersey" href="">Womens Josh Norman Jersey</a> , video coordinator Billy Broadbent will point a third iPad at the batter’s box – Martinez’s personal device, which he’s used to record his practice cuts since 2015.

    After batting practice, Martinez retreats to the clubhouse to review the footage, making sure every piece of his carefully crafted swing is in the right place.

    ”It makes me who I am,” Martinez told The Associated Press. ”I always tell everybody that I’m not a natural hitter. I’m a trained hitter.”

    His meticulous preparation amazes even the hardest-working major leaguers, and it’s paid off. He signed a $110 million, five-year deal with the Red Sox in the offseason, a long way from his early career struggles with Houston, and he was named an All-Star for the third time this season while leading the majors with 29 homers and 80 RBIs.

    After posting a meager .650 OPS in 86 games in 2013, Martinez went to the drawing board on his swing. He jokes that he took roughly 10 million flawed swings before overhauling his approach prior to a breakout 2014, and he’s nervous those old habits might creep back in if he’s not diligent.

    ”I had to teach myself the proper swing and the mechanics that I have to do <a title="Womens Andrew Luck Jersey" href="">Womens Andrew Luck Jersey</a> ,” he said. ”I have to stay on top of it because my body will find a way to let 10 million swings I’ve taken when I was a kid slowly come back in. So, I have to grind away to get out of the bad habits.”

    Thus the daily video reviews, though it wasn’t always so easy to have his cuts captured.

    Martinez was released by Houston during spring training in 2014 and landed with Detroit. He experimented with the iPad that season but was razzed and discouraged about it by Tigers veterans. He didn’t make the iPad a staple of his routine until he stuck with the major league club the next season.

    ”In ’14 I was too scared to do it with Detroit because I was too young, and it was an older team,” he said. ”In ’15 I had more confidence.”

    So what does Martinez look for day after day when he’s going over BP footage?

    ”Similarities,” he said. ”It’s like the game; ever play the game matchup and what’s different in this picture? You have two pictures side by side. That’s pretty much what I do.

    ”Usually when I’m swinging well, feeling well and know that I’m in a good place, I just save them,” he added. ”Ones that when I’m feeling crappy, I just delete them. Then I have a reference point for the future.”

    Martinez hit .302 with 28 homers and 65 RBIs in 62 games with Arizona last season after a midyear trade from Detroit. His short stay made a major impression with the Diamondbacks.

    ”I learned a lot from him just in the two months we were together,” said Arizona slugger Paul Goldschmidt <a title="Authentic Travis Kelce Jersey" href="">Authentic Travis Kelce Jersey</a> , also known around the league for his thorough preparation. ”He’s just so dedicated; as prepared as anyone is out there on his own swing, on the way pitchers are going to pitch, and just really committed.”

    Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said the club still borrows from Martinez’s routine.

    ”J.D., his work habits were really unbelievable,” he said. ”Once he got to the batting cage, it was very specific with one particular detail he was working on. That’s what we’ve inherited this year with all of our hitters.”

    Fellow Boston All-Star Mookie Betts has also taken a keen interest in Martinez’s habits. The pair regularly talk hitting around the batting cage, with Betts eager to figure out how Martinez generates so much opposite-field power.

    ”That’s why he’s one of a kind,” Betts said. ”But he can hit it out of any part of the park, too.”

    Freelancer Jose M. Romero in Arizona contributed to this story.

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