Will Hawks Miss #21?
When teams do their final cuts to make it to a 53-man roster, there’s bound to be some surprises. Be it for the salary cap, developmental reasons or ones I can’t even begin to comprehend, these final cuts are always riddled with shocking and sometimes puzzling releases.
The Seattle Seahawks final cuts were no exception.
In what wound up being a particularly unforgiving day for the veterans, the Seahawks cut their beloved fullback, Michael Robinson, and supposed final piece in the pending Super Bowl Run, Antoine Winfield; for whatever it’s worth, upon hearing that he was to be possibly traded, but most likely cut, Winfield actually retired.
While Robinson’s release could be seen coming miles away, the same can not be said of Winfield’s… departure. His contract was somewhere between team friendly and unreasonable, and even upon releasing him the Seahawks only saved $1M against the cap.
With a more than reasonable contract and little to no signs of aging, even at the venerable age of 36, one is left to wonder just what exactly was accomplished with his release?
What purpose does it serve?
About That Salary Cap
One of the more reasonable and oft mentioned justifications of his release is the salary wiggle room it provides.
This argument, in fact, has some validity to it. Even though the Seahawks were only able to save $1M against this season’s salary cap, the effects of cap rollover make it a worthwhile saving.
It may seem like pennies on the dollar, but with John Schneider having to find some way to not lose any, or preferably, all of the following off-season’s free agents, it could make a world of difference.
Of those free agents, surely it’s Golden Tate and Brandon Browner that will be the most costly, but that only scratches the surface of his laundry list of Seahawks he will be looking to keep in tow; Walter Thurmond and Doug Baldwin are also looking to cash in.
The cap implications of Winfield’s retirement for this season are of slightly less significance, but should injuries take their toll on this roster it could prove useful nonetheless.
As of now the Seahawks are left with somewhere in the neighbourhood of $4M in cap space.
It’s not much, but for injury fill-ins it will suffice.
The Roster Effect
What presumably led to Winfield’s cut, more than anything, was the emergence of Walter Thurmond. With Thurmond having one of,
if not the best training camps of any Seahawk surely it seemed redundant to keep Winfield. It was Thurmond after all who was in direct competition with Winfield for the role of nickel cornerback.
This move also brought the club down to a more reasonable number of cornerbacks, with only five making it on the 53-man roster; all of which were with the club last season.
The Argument for Keeping Winfield
While an extra $1M in cap space is great, and having five cornerbacks rather than six is more reasonable, I still feel the Seahawks should have kept Winfield.
Whether he was to start in the nickel package at corner or not, he had value to this club.
His status as the elder statesman of this secondary could have proven invaluable to this young and developing group of defensive backs. Having played in the league for 14 years, there is undoubtedly a wealth of information at Winfield’s disposal and surely the Seahawks young stable of cornerbacks could benefit from having had a season to learn from him.
He would essentially be the Marcus Trufant of this season, but good.
Of the more tangible benefits to having Winfield, let’s not forget that he can still play. It was of course hard to see this in the pre-season, but that has more to do with his only playing 27 snaps than anything.
It’s also worth noting that Winfield was the highest rated cornerback on ProFootballFocus for last season, and actually had the second highest number of pass deflections in his entire lengthy career with 12.
He also had the second most interceptions of his career with three.
The guy can still play.
Most notably though, Winfield is a tackling machine. Last season Winfield only missed eight tackles playing in Minnesota’s nickel and dime packages, which are incredibly demanding of the nickelback’s in run defense.
C’est la vie
What I think matters not though, and the Seahawks faith in Thurmond trumped that of their faith in Winfield. This certainly isn’t a season maker of a decision, but one I wish they hadn’t made.
For better or worse, the early returns are less than a day away. Can only hope they’re positive.