Seahawks Q&A: What Witherspoon and Everett signings mean for Seattle
The Seahawks have made several moves in free agency this week, and while we all know the basics — like who they signed — it’s fair to have a few leftover questions.
This column attempts to answer a few of those about cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon and tight end Gerald Everett, as well as a few lingering questions about free agency. (For some quick takeaways on the addition of guard Gabe Jackson, check out Jake’s answer in the link at the top of the story.)
Let’s dive in.
Is Ahkello Witherspoon a fair replacement for Shaquill Griffin?
Witherspoon and Griffin were both selected in the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft, though interestingly enough, Witherspoon was chosen first at pick No. 66 by San Francisco, ahead of Griffin at pick No. 90 (Seattle did draft Witherspoon’s Colorado teammate, Tedric Thompson, in the fourth round).
But while Witherspoon was selected first, it’s Griffin who has had the more stable career. Griffin leads the pair in solo tackles (203 to 99), tackles for loss (nine to two), and interceptions (six to four). Griffin also appeared in more games. So this signing leans more toward Witherspoon competing for a spot, rather than being handed one.
Witherspoon is talented – he went from the bottom of the depth chart to being named starter during his rookie season – but he’s had his share of inconsistencies and struggles, the most notable of which was being benched during a 2019 postseason game. He’s also struggled with availability; he hasn’t appeared in more than 10 games per season since 2018.
But the reality for Seattle was that spending top dollar for a corner was going to be difficult given their limited salary cap and other needs. Thus, Griffin moves on to Jacksonville on a lucrative three-year, $44.5 million contract and Witherspoon gets a fresh start with a team in desperate need of cornerback depth.
What does it mean for the cap?
Per Josina Anderson, Witherspoon signed a one-year, $4 million deal with Seattle. It’s not the cheapest contract on the roster – it makes him the third highest-paid defensive back for Seattle – but it also doesn’t take a huge bit out of the available cap space.
What’s a Witherspoon stat that stands out?
There’s no one particular stat that comes to mind, but for Witherspoon at his best, check out his pick six of Jameis Winston in 2019, his 2017 game against the Philadelphia Eagles, and last year’s game against the Dallas Cowboys.
Is Gerald Everett TE1? What’s this mean for Will Dissly?
Perhaps it’s because Everett was primarily a backup role to tight end Tyler Higbee with the Rams, but my initial reaction after Everett’s signing was that there won’t be a clear gap between tight end production for Seattle in 2021. That is, it’s going to look a lot like Everett’s last role (where he and Higbee were just two targets apart) and a lot less like Travis Kelce and Kyle Moxon in Kansas City (just kidding, Kyle Moxon is a character from Varsity Blues, but because Kelce is so dominant, you’d be forgiven for not knowing that Nick Keizer is also a Chiefs tight end).
My Jake and Stacy co-host Jake Heaps didn’t hesitate when I asked him during the show whether he thinks Everett will be TE1. Without hesitating, he said, “yes.”
The good news is Seattle didn’t get a ton of production from Greg Olsen in 2020, so there won’t be a large hole to fill. And Seahawks fans, I don’t want to take you down a painful trip to memory lane, but go watch his Week 5 game from 2019 against Seattle. It was a personal best in yardage (136).
What does it mean for the cap?
That salary cap just keeps chipping away, doesn’t it? According to Ian Rapoport, Everett’s is a one-year deal worth up to $7 million, with $6 million guaranteed. He’ll be the highest-paid tight end on the roster, and is roughly similar to Olsen’s deal last year in terms of cap hit.
What’s an Everett stat that stands out?
Everett saw career highs in nearly every category this year, but especially in yards after catch (YAC), which is always an area where coaches love to see extra production. He tallied up 243 there. Those aren’t Travis Kelce numbers (597 yards after catch; come on guys, there’s a reason he’s a star), but it’s more than Robert Tonyan (224), Jimmy Graham (206), Dallas Goedert (203), Dan Arnold (176), and Will Dissly (168).
Where’s the cap right now?
Will Schneider make a move to acquire more draft picks?
Given Schneider’s trends in past drafts, one would assume he makes a move to acquire more picks. It’s not unheard of, though, for teams to stick with a low number. The Saints used just four picks in 2020, the Titans had four in 2018, and the Patriots had four the year before that. You’d have to go back to the Jets in 2009 for a team that used just three picks.
Will they make more moves?
The excitement around free agency makes it feel like a fast-paced, two-week event. And the biggest names and best available players are typically offered contracts during this time. But the offseason is long, and teams make additions throughout, including after the draft. Regardless of outcome, some of the Seahawks’ more notable moves – signing Ziggy Ansah, trading for Sheldon Richardson, trading for Jamal Adams – have come after the draft.