Seahawks reach out to 3-time Pro Bowl CB Antoine Winfield
Brandon Browner is a sensational second cornerback, but a groin injury may hold him out for the rest of the season. The best case scenario for the Seahawks appears to be getting Browner back for the playoffs.
Walter Thurmond III - Seattle's slot corner who had stepped into the No. 2 role when Browner got hurt - has arguably been even better than Browner this season, allowing a 66.6 passer rating on throws into his coverage compared to a 78.8 mark for Browner. Thurmond, however, has been busted for alleged marijuana use, and will be suspended for the next four games.
Even without a steady second cornerback, the Seahawks' secondary is still among the league's best, but the team is still trying to fill that one hole in their defensive backfield. Head coach Pete Carroll confirmed a report Monday that the Seahawks have reached out to Antoine Winfield, formerly of the Vikings and Bills.
A three-time Pro Bowler (2008, 2009, and 2010), Winfield joined the Seahawks over this past offseason, but "retired" when rumors surfaced that he was going to be released. It came as a surprise, however, as Winfield played at a very high level in 2012, grading out as Pro Football Focus' No. 1 cornerback in all of the NFL, mostly due to his prowess against the run. Now 36 years old, Winfield may be on the decline, but it would be a bit of a shock to see his ability completely plummet after such a strong season.
Reports in late September said that Winfield was still working out and considering a return to "the right situation," and playing for a Super Bowl contender with a need in their secondary certainly seem like some ideal conditions. Carroll also mentioned on Monday that Winfield "knows his way around," suggesting that he is familiar with the scheme after spending four and a half months with the team over the spring/summer.
Heading to Seattle in an attempt to win his first Super Bowl certainly seems like a possibility for Winfield, and even feels somewhat probable at this point.
Both primarily a slot corners, it would be interesting to see if Thurmond or Winfield would play the every-down No. 2 role once Thurmond's suspension is up (assuming the Seahawks sign Winfield, of course). In addition, it would be interesting to see the playing time distribution between Thurmond, Winfield, and Browner if the latter is able to return from his groin injury. Winfield may be less likely to sign if he feels that he will eventually be relegated to the No. 4 corner role.