Friday, April 12, 2013
Key points on Antoine Winfield, Seahawks
By Mike Sando
A few thoughts after Minnesota Vikings free-agent cornerback Antoine Winfield told ESPN's Josina Anderson he had reached agreement on a one-year deal with the Seattle Seahawks:
Earlier: A few thoughts on Winfield.
- The fit: Winfield projects as the replacement for Marcus Trufant as the Seahawks' primary slot corner. Richard Sherman is unquestionably the No. 1 cornerback on the team. Brandon Browner projects as the other starter. Seattle still has plans and hopes for younger corners on the team, notably Jeremy Lane. Walter Thurmond, if healthy, could be part of the mix. DeShawn Shead is another young corner with potential. Trufant, 32, is a free agent and not expected back. The Seahawks could still draft a corner. They could decide to release Winfield after training camp, even. This is a one-year deal without significant salary-cap ramifications.
- Veteran presence: Winfield, who turns 36 on June 24, becomes the oldest player on the Seahawks' roster by more than four years. His addition adds a veteran voice to the defensive backs' meeting room in Seattle. He is older than Lane by more than 13 years. Sherman recently turned 25. Browner, though 28, has started less than full two seasons in the NFL. From afar, this might look like a case of Seattle seeking a veteran corner to help settle down the frequently outspoken Sherman. I've never sensed worry from coach Pete Carroll on that front, however. Trufant was a veteran corner, but Seattle wasn't trying to re-sign him. Winfield qualifies as a special case, an older player with a specific set of skills for Seattle to fit into its defense.
- Minnesota West: Winfield joins receivers Sidney Rice and Percy Harvin, plus offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, as high-profile Seahawks with ties to the Vikings. All were together in Minnesota as recently as 2010. Those ties could have helped Winfield feel more comfortable about changing teams for the first time since he left the Buffalo Bills for Minnesota following the 2003 season. The Seahawks are an attractive destination on the merits, however. Winfield accepted a one-year contract. He presumably could have gotten a one-year deal elsewhere, including in Minnesota.
- 49ers rivalry: Adding Winfield will strengthen perceptions that the Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers are trying to one-up each other this offseason after one half-game separated them in the 2012 standings. Some of these moves appear coincidental. To review, Winfield agreed to terms with Seattle a week after the division-rival 49ers signed another older former Pro Bowl corner in Nnamdi Asomugha. In both cases, the signing teams waited out the cornerbacks, signing them to one-year deals. The 49ers previously traded for receiver Anquan Boldin hours after news broke that Seattle was acquiring Harvin. Both teams recently added backup quarterbacks who entered the NFL as early-round picks. Both made those moves after trading away the backup quarterbacks they had previously signed as starters.