Reports: Antoine Winfield to sign with Seahawks
By Brady Henderson
Antoine Winfield will be a Seahawk after all.
The free-agent cornerback has reportedly agreed in principal to a one-year deal with Seattle, strengthening a secondary that is already considered the best in the NFL.
Winfield, 35, was reportedly close to signing with the Seahawks earlier this week before mulling offers from the Redskins and Vikings. He spent the last nine seasons with Minnesota, which released Winfield last month before attempting to re-sign him at a reduce rate.
ESPN’s Josina Anderson was the first to report Winfield’s decision to sign with the Seahawks. Financial terms of his deal aren’t known.
“I’m definitely excited about the opportunity to play in Seattle. They’re a great football team. Those guys did an excellent job last season. They’re young, athletic and energetic,” Winfield told Anderson. “I’m excited to play with Richard [Sherman], Brandon [Browner], Kam [Chancellor] and Earl [Thomas] because they’re some of the most talented players on defense in the NFL right now.”
With Sherman, Browner, Thomas and Chancellor, the Seahawks already boasted a star-studded defensive backfield that has four Pro Bowls and two first team All-Pro selections on its collective resume. That doesn’t mean their secondary was set, however. Free agent Marcus Trufant was the team’s primary nickel corner last season, but he might not have been re-signed even if he put off retirement for another season.
Winfield has experience playing in the slot, which will be his role in Seattle provided he fends off younger players like Walter Thurmond and Jeremy Lane.
A first-round pick by the Bills in 1999, Winfield has three Pro Bowls and 27 interceptions during his 14-year career. While he has the credentials, Winfield doesn’t have the youth or the size that are also defining characteristics of Seattle’s secondary.
Winfield, who turns 36 in June, will be the oldest player on the Seahawks’ roster and practically ancient compared to Sherman, Thomas, Chancellor and Browner, who are all under is 28. And at 5-foot-9 and 180 pounds, he won’t tower opposing receivers like Sherman and Browner do, but he’ll certainly get physical with them.
“He’s a guy I had a lot of respect for as a player because he was a corner who wasn’t afraid to come up and tackle and hit you,” former NFL quarterback Damon Huard said Friday on 710 ESPN Seattle. “Not a big guy, but played very physical.”
Winfield joins a long list of former Vikings to join the Seahawks. Nate Burleson, Sidney Rice, Tarvaris Jackson, Heath Farwell and Percy Harvin all began their careers in Minnesota. Darrell Bevell was the Vikings’ offensive coordinator before taking the same job with the Seahawks. All but Burleson and Jackson are still with the Seahawks, so it’s possible that Winfield’s connections to the team played a role in his decision.