Antoine Winfield, a veteran cornerback, informed the Seahawks he intends to sign, leaving Minnesota after nine seasons.
Antoine Winfield doesn’t necessarily fit Seattle’s mold at cornerback or in this year’s free-agency market.
He’s listed at 5 feet 9, distinctly smaller than Seattle’s starters: Brandon Browner, who is 6-3, and Richard Sherman, who is 6-4. Winfield, a first-round pick in 1999 who will turn 36 in June, is also older than most players Seattle has pursued.
But there’s plenty of reason to think he will be a great fit in Seattle after the veteran cornerback informed the Seahawks he intends to sign with them, leaving Minnesota after nine seasons there. The Seahawks won’t announce the addition until the contract is finalized.
Winfield comes at a bargain, agreeing to what will be a one-year contract, according to ESPN.
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Winfield is a physical, tough cornerback who’s unafraid to mix it up at the line of scrimmage. A three-time Pro Bowler, he could be a perfect fit as the fifth defensive back who comes on the field in passing situations. That nickel-back role is the spot Marcus Trufant played a year ago for the Seahawks, and there were times — such as Seattle’s November loss in Miami — when opponents appeared to target him.
Trufant is unsigned, and the team also has cornerbacks Walter Thurmond, Byron Maxwell and Jeremy Lane who will be competing for roles.
Winfield provides veteran toughness to what was already considered one of the top secondaries in the league with Browner, Sherman and safeties Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor.
Chalk Winfield’s addition up as one more coup in Seattle’s offseason, which started with the blockbuster trade for receiver Percy Harvin followed by the surprising free-agent additions of defensive linemen Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett.
Those were all players in their mid-20s, though, and none had been in the league more than five seasons. That fit the model of players Seattle had targeted previously in free agency — guys like tight end Zach Miller and wide receiver Sidney Rice, who were coming off their rookie contracts when Seattle signed them in 2011.
Winfield is different. He has played 14 NFL seasons, the first five in Buffalo and the last nine in Minnesota, and although he has remained a valuable contributor, there is no doubt that he’s nearing the end of his career. The Vikings released him last month, not because they didn’t want him, but they didn’t want to pay him $7.25 million. The Vikings were still trying to re-sign him this week.
The fact that Seattle wanted to add Winfield spoke to the team’s belief he will be a valuable contributor even at the age of 36. The fact that Winfield picked Seattle spoke to the team’s status in the league as a desired destination.
Danny O’Neil: 206-464-2364 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Twitter @dannyoneil