The Seattle Seahawks are shaking up the defense mere days before the regular season begins. The team has traded cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon to the Pittsburgh Steelers, ending his tenure in the Pacific Northwest before he played a game that counted in the record books.
NFL insider Ian Rapoport first reported the trade on Friday, Sept. 3. He later reported that the Steelers are sending back a 2023 fifth-round pick. Gregg Bell of the “Tacoma News Tribune” also noted that the trade ensures the Steelers will take over Witherspoon’s guaranteed $4 million contract.
The 6-foot 3-inch, 195-pound corner initially signed a one-year deal with the Seahawks in March after four seasons with the 49ers, providing what appeared to be a replacement for the departed Shaquill Griffin. Witherspoon lost his starting job during training camp after DJ Reed secured the left cornerback spot. Tre Flowers took over the right side.
The Seahawks Added CB Depth Before Trading Witherspoon
The Seahawks did not simply assign starting jobs to Reed and Flowers before cutting ties with Witherspoon. The team also added other players that could compete if needed due to injury or poor play.
The biggest addition to the group is Sidney Jones. The former Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback landed with the Seahawks via trade on Monday, Aug. 30, in exchange for a sixth-round pick. Jones will not step into the starting lineup, but he will compete for snaps at both left and right cornerback.
“He’s a complete football player,” head coach Pete Carroll said about Jones, per the Seahawks website. “We’ve known him for a long time, of course, being here. He’s aggressive, he’s a very savvy football player, he’s a really good technician, a very smart player, he’s an all-around athlete, he’s really well equipped, got good ball skills, and all that kind of stuff. We really have a lot of information on him knowing the coaches that have coached him and the whole thing. So we feel very fortunate to get him to come in here and let him have a chance to compete.”
The Seahawks also claimed cornerback Nigel Warrior off of waivers, adding him into the mix. The former undrafted free agent out of the University of Tennessee has experience at multiple positions, which he will use while adding to the defense. Carroll specifically noted Warrior’s history at safety when explaining why the team claimed him.
The Trade Bodes Well for a Rookie Pick
Another intriguing part of the trade with the Steelers is what it means for a rookie out of Oklahoma. Tre Brown, the 137th pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, missed time during training camp and the preseason with a knee sprain.
According to ESPN’s Brady Henderson, Brown should be ready to go in time for the season opener against the Indianapolis Colts on Sept. 12. Carroll did not fully confirm that the rookie will be back, but he spoke highly of him during a recent media availability. The head coach even noted that Brown had an opportunity to win a starting job.
“The timeline for that isn’t set yet,” Carroll said, per the Seahawks. “I don’t know how that’s going to turn right now. He had a really good camp, he did a fantastic job of battling… Had he been in the mix, he might have been right at the front of the competition, because he had a shot to do that. I was open-minded about that, but unfortunately, he got set back. So we’ll know that when he comes back to us—and he’s going to be OK, this is not something we don’t know about, it’s going to be OK, we’re just not sure when—he’ll enter right back into it.”