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Clayton on Seahawks’ interest in Antoine Winfield

By Alexander Bigelow
Special to

The Seahawks clearly have a flare for the dramatics. Trading for Percy Harvin, signing Cliff Avril and dropping Matt Flynn are evidence enough.

But despite all the offseason activity, the brain trust that is Pete Carroll and John Schneider still look to have a few tricks up their sleeves — one being the possible acquisition of veteran cornerback Antoine Winfield.

CB Antoine Winfield, 35, has remained productive despite his age. (AP)

Winfield, a 14-year NFL veteran that spent the last 11 years with the Vikings, has reportedly taken a visit to Seattle. If signed, Winfield would presumably be filing to void left by long-time Seahawk Marcus Trufant, 32, at the nickelback position. Trufant, who spent the past 10 seasons in Seattle, is a free agent and has been slowed by injuries in recent seasons.

Despite being three years older than Trufant, Winfield, 35, has lost little in the realm of on-the field-production after recording 100 tackles, 12 pass deflections and three interceptions last year.

John Clayton, while on “Afternoons with the Go 2 Guy” on Monday, discussed the possibility of Winfield joining Seattle in a role similar to what Trufant’s was last season.

“He understands (his) speed has gone away from him,” Clayton said of the aging cornerback’s current skill set. “He’s going to rely more on his head, his experience and more on how he reads the quarterback.”

The three-time Pro Bowl selection has been a constant on the field throughout his career, playing in 13 or more games in 10 of his 14 NFL season. He also has a reputation as a solid-tackling cornerback, recording 85 or more tackles in seven seasons.

In typical Carroll-Schneider fashion, the Seahawks seem more than willing to at least entertain bringing in an outside source to compete for the nickelback position, but Seattle does have options from within. Third-year Oregon product Walter Thurmond, 25, is presumably the clubhouse favorite.

“He’s going to have every chance. If you look at the resume he has, and the fact that he has been on the team, he would have the best candidacy to be the slot guy,” Clayton said. “… But the injuries have plagued him.”

To call Thurmond injury prone is obvious; in three years as a Seahawk, Thurmond has missed 29 of 51 games. The injuries have varied from ligament tears is his knee while in college to a broken leg, and most recently hamstring woes that landed him on the season-ending injured reserve for the second consecutive season.

“In the back of your mind, you have to worry,” Clayton said of Thurmond’s injury-prone history. “It’s like, how many years can you have injuries and not be able to shred them?”

If he does have a chance at competing for the nickelback position, it would likely be because he returns to his 2010 self when he record career-highs in games played (14), tackles (37) and pass deflections (7).
But the worry persists of his ability to make it through a full 16-game season.

If Carroll stays true to his competition-on-all-fronts mentality, then Byron Maxwell, 25, and Jeremy Lane, 22, should have opportunities in the preseason to win the nickelback position.

Clayton believes Seattle may take the stance of waiting until after the draft to make a decision on bringing someone like Winfield in to compete for the nickelback position assuming the dynamic duo isn’t sold on anyone in the draft or on their current roster.