The Seattle Seahawks are close to making their first signings of NFL free agency. NFL insider Josina Anderson reported the Seahawks have agreed to terms with former 49ers cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon. The move comes hours after the Seahawks lost former Pro Bowl corner Shaquill Griffin to the Jaguars.
The newest Seahawks cornerback will be permitted to sign his new deal on March 17. The 6’3″, 195-pound corner fits Pete Carroll’s preference for lengthy secondary players as the team made popular in the Legion of Boom era with Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner among others. Witherspoon is expected to sign a one-year deal, $4 million deal, per The Athletic’s Michael-Shawn Dugar.
Witherspoon started in his first three seasons with the Niners. The newest Seahawks corner started in four of his 11 appearances last season in San Francisco. Witherspoon notched one interception, 20 tackles and 59.4 percent of passes were completed against the corner in 2020.
“I thought Ahkello Witherspoon *might* be the 49ers’ best candidate for the NFL’s new mid-level exception ($2+ million salary for only a ~$1 million cap hit), but his solid play to close 2020 likely priced him out of that,” The Athletic’s David Lombardi tweeted.
Witherspoon had an up-and-down tenure with the Niners, but 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan praised his team-first mentality after being pulled in a January 2020 matchup.
“For Ahkello to get replaced by Emmanuel [Moseley] early in that game, he handled it great,” Shanahan said, per 49ers.com. “He went right up to Hightower right after that like ‘Hey, Coach pulled me. They’re going with E-man. But hey, I’m good. Make sure you give me all E-man’s reps, everything he has on special teams. I’ll do whatever I can to help. He needs his energy. You put me in on special teams.'”
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The Seahawks Are ‘Working to Finalze’ a New Contract with DT Poona Ford
The Seahawks are also closing in on a new deal with defensive tackle Poona Ford. ESPN’s Brady Henderson reported the Seahawks are “working to finalize” a two-year contract with Ford.
“A source tells me the Seahawks are working to finalize a two-year deal with DT Poona Ford,” Henderson noted on Twitter. “He was set to be a restricted free agent, so the two-year deal would be in lieu of a one-year RFA tender. Ford has gone from undrafted in 2018 to one of Seattle’s best defenders.”
Ford has started the last two seasons for the Seahawks at defensive tackle. He notched 40 tackles, two sacks and nine quarterback hits in 16 starts in 2020.
As for the cornerback position, the Seahawks are likely headed to a wide-open competition. Two former 49ers will likely enter training camp as the favorites with Witherspoon potentially being paired with D.J. Reed. According to NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo, the Seahawks were “not in the same ballpark on money” with Griffin when free agency started and their late push was thwarted by the Jaguars.
Carroll on Ford: ‘A Good, Coordinated Quick Athlete’
Last season, Carroll praised the progression the team has seen from Ford. Carroll described the defensive tackle as a “good, coordinated quick athlete.”
“We’ve been moving the front some and he’s taken advantage of that,” Carroll explained in November, per Sports Illustrated. “He’s a really good athlete – a good, coordinated quick athlete – and it helps him to get on the move so with the movements, he’s jumped out a little bit and he had a really good game yesterday.”