Winfield will be looking to win his first Superbowl ring with the Seahawks, a triumph that has eluded the franchise since its inaugural season back in 1976.
“I knew Seattle had a great team,” Winfield said. “I just wanted a chance to compete for a championship, and I thought my best place to go was here.
Winfield will slot in as the nickel back for Seattle’s “Legion of Boom” secondary which includes All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman, cornerback Brandon Browner, All-Pro free safety Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor.
“I’ve played football a long time and they are very talented – all across the board; both the corners, both safeties,” Winfield said. “By far, the No. 1 secondary in the league. These guys, the way they work, I see why they’re No. 1.”
Pro Football Focus (PFF) has Winfield ranked as the number one CB with a grade of +25.5, narrowly edging out his new teammate Richard Sherman (+25.1). But that’s only part of the story.
Nobody will say that Winfield is the best CB in the league. If you look purely at coverage Sherman was hands down the superior player in that category last season. His PFF grade for coverage was +26.4, almost four times higher than Winfield’s (+7.0).
However, Winfield’s play against the run and the short passing game was superior to any other corner. Last season he made 44 stops which was a dozen more than the next best player. Of those stops, 26 were in the run game, logging one on 7.3 percent of his run snaps, again the top mark by a corner by some distance and one that is actually closer to the norm for linebackers than it is among corners.
That’s not too shabby for a man who will be 36 years old by the time the season starts.
To put into perspective how old Winfield is compared to the rest of Seattle’s secondary, when Winfield played his first NFL game against the Peyton Manning-quarterbacked Indianapolis Colts at the RCA Dome on Sept. 12, 1999 – Chancellor and Sherman were 11, Browner was 15 and Thomas was 10.
And to drive the age gap home, Winfield has played in 191 games during his 14-season NFL career, with 173 starts. Thomas, Chancellor, Sherman and Browner have 155 games and 133 starts between them in their combined 10 NFL seasons.
Having said that, Winfield’s experience, pedigree and skill will go a long way into shoring up the nickel back position where Seattle was too often victimized last season during their opponents’ last-second rallies in losses to the Detroit Lions, Miami Dolphins and Atlanta Falcons.
Winfield came up with 101 tackles last season (72 solo), 12 passes defended, and three interceptions, adding to his career totals of 1,019 tackles, 117 passes defended, 27 interceptions and 7.5 sacks. He has also scored five touchdowns, two off interceptions, two more on fumble returns and the fifth with a blocked field goal.
So it’s safe to say that the former Viking is far from washed up. In fact out of the cornerbacks who were free agents this year, Winfield was one of the best options for Seattle. He fits in right where there’s a need since the Seahawks decided not re-sign Marcus Trufant who became an unrestricted free agent in March.
“Playing in this league, this will be my 15th season, a lot of bumps, a lot of bruises,” said Winfield, “It does kind of slow you down. But I’m still quick. I can still play.”
He may not be as fast as was in his rookie year for the Bills back in 1999 but his unrivaled ability to read and react to runs or short screens and passes makes him a valuable asset for any team.
Defensive coordinator Dan Quinn said of Winfield’s refusal to give in to age or any opponent, “The way he jumps in and he likes to practice. He fits right in with what we’re trying to do.”