By John Boyle
The signing of cornerback Antoine Winfield finally became official Wednesday (the delay was because of a death in the family). As for why Winfield and how the deal got done, here’s what general manager John Schneider had to say when he met with the media for a pre-draft press conference.
“Quite frankly his agent was very aggressive in reaching out to us and expressing Antoine’s interest in playing with this defensive backfield and our defense, and he had heard a lot of good things about the organization,” Schneider said. “We researched it to a certain extent. A player of his caliber, you want to show as much respect as you possibly can for them, so we want to be very careful what kind of offer we were going to make if anything. Coach Carroll ended up having a great conversation with Antoine about his general philosophy on competition at each position so he understood what he was getting into.”
“We stayed after it on our side from a recruiting standpoint, Pete and Dan Quinn and matt Thomas all did a good job of staying in touch with Antoine and his agent, and we were able to come to an agreement.”
As expected, Schneider said they see Winfield as a nickel cornerback. And as for the fact that Winfield, who is 5-foot-9, doesn’t exactly fit the mold of other Seahawks corners, Schneider said Winfield’s other skills and his instincts more than make up for a lack of height.
“While he doesn’t necessarily fit our size requirements for the position, he’s always been a player who has compensated for that deficiency with his intensity, his instincts and his tackling skills,” Schneider said. “He’s always been a phenomenal run support player.
“He’s very instinctive inside, and he had a very nice season, you can see him playing inside against bigger players, like Brandon Marshall and Calvin Johnson and disrupting them.”
Winfield is just the latest high-profile signing for the Seahawks, joining defensive ends Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril. Percy Harvin, who came to Seattle in a trade, also expressed to his agent an interest in getting a deal done with the Seahawks, which poses the question, are players more interested in coming to Seattle this year than in the past?
“This year, we feel blessed,” Schneider said. “I think it’s a testament to Coach Carroll’s staff and the way that they treat players as men. I think that’s kind of gotten around the league. And the competition thing is real here, and I think players also feel like they’re going to be put in a position to accentuate their strengths.
Schneider also said the league’s flat salary cap led to some players not getting the deals they wanted: “There are a lot of people who went out in free agency and didn’t necessarily get what they were looking for financially, so on our end we always take a lot of pride in trying to get in on every deal as much as we can, then if it doesn’t make sense we’re at least at peace walking away from it knowing we gave it a good run, and some of these this year just ended up going our way.”
As for Seattle’s other recent signing, quarterback Brady Quinn, Schneider said the decision involved both Quinn’s ability and his work ethic.
“Brady is all football all the time,” Schneider said. “He’s a junky, he can’t get enough, so we thought he’d be a really cool fit with Russell (Wilson).”
“He’ also a guy who, in our opinion has put a lot of pressure on himself, and people have put undue pressure on him—much like Jake (Locker) when he came out and was supposed to be the first pick of the draft and all that stuff—Brady went through the same thing, and we just wanted to get him a situation where we just talked about having fun, making football fun. Working hard and trying to improve every day, but have fun doing it—don’t put too much pressure on yourself. And then he threw the ball extremely well and did well in the workout.”
And a few other notes…
Schneider said recently signed DT Tony McDaniel will likely fill the role of Alan Brach, a starter the last two season, though he said the coaching staff is still figuring out how it will rotate all of its new D-line acquisitions… Schneider said he has not talked to DE Chris Clemons recently, but that team trainers said Clemons is recovering well from his offseason knee surgery. Schneider also noted that Clemons is a fast healer, though he said it is too soon to know if he’ll be ready for the beginning of the season or if he’ll start the year on the Physically Unable to Perform list.