Print and Go Back ESPN.com: NFL Nation [Print without images]

Monday, April 15, 2013
What Winfield move says and does not say

By Mike Sando

David from State College, Pa., questions whether the Seattle Seahawks are making a mistake by signing 35-year-old cornerback Antoine Winfield.

"The Seahawks have a lot of young, untested talent and their success these past few seasons has largely come from trusting that young talent to carry the team," David writes. "Signing Antoine Winfield goes against that. Does Pete Carroll really not trust the depth we have at CB behind Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner? Or does this move represent a change in tactics by the front office?"

Sando: Winfield's deal is not yet official, but I would expect this to be a very modest contract. The reported terms -- one year for as much as $3 million -- reflect what Winfield could earn if he maxed out various incentives. There will be little in the way of guaranteed money. Winfield will have to earn his spot on the roster.

I do not see the Winfield signing signaling a change in philosophy.

Seattle considered Winfield because Winfield has demonstrated an ability to play at a high level from the slot, an aspect of the defense Seattle has been looking to upgrade. We could still see the Seahawks addressing that area in the draft, but there will be less urgency to do so following Winfield's addition.

We should also understand the Winfield signing for what it is not.

The Seahawks would not turn to Winfield as a replacement for Sherman or Browner on the outside if either one of those starting corners suddenly were not available. We would most likely see Jeremy Lane or someone else playing on the perimeter in that case. As we discussed last week, Winfield is not an outside coverage player at this stage of his career.

Also, I do not think Seattle signed Winfield over concerns about its current starting corners. While Sherman has earned a reputation for brashness, he has proven to be extremely thorough in his preparation, according to coaches. Seattle does not need a veteran player to mentor Sherman on that front.

The Winfield addition tells us Seattle thinks Winfield can provide a clear upgrade from Marcus Trufant as a slot corner, and at a reasonable price. That is probably all it tells us.