The Seahawks made a couple of free agent moves on Tuesday. One was signing cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon, formerly of the 49ers. Witherspoon will be for all intents and purposes replacing Shaquill Griffin who is leaving to play for the Jacksonville Jaguars. Witherspoon should be a good replacement for Griffin even while Witherspoon is less experienced.
Griffin never really became the shutdown corner that the Seahawks. He was good but not a top-10 corner. Replacing Griffin with someone who shows promise, like Witherspoon, makes sense. And Seattle saved about $10 million by going with Witherspoon rather than Griffin. Is the gamble on Witherspoon worth that? Yes.
In 2020, Witherspoon was arguably better than Griffin, albeit in fewer snaps. Witherspoon had his best season and he is the perfect size for a Pete Carroll cornerback at 6’2″ and 210 pounds. Witherspoon also has good speed. What has held him back the most so far is injuries. Maybe he gets injured again but Seattle signed him only to a one-year deal so it is a low-risk, high-ceiling deal.
Seahawks signing Ahkello Witherspoon is a good move
Last year, Witherspoon allowed a passer-rating-against of 72.6. Griffin had allowed 91.4. Griffin allowed 11.1 yards a reception and Witherspoon allowed 8.6. Yes, Witherspoon played fewer snaps but his team was also wrecked by pass rushers getting injured early in the season so the 49ers secondary was a bit more exposed than they normally would have been. The same cannot be said of Griffin as the Seahawks pass rush actually got better as the year wore on.
I do not want to say that losing Griffin doesn’t hurt. It does. Griffin appears to be a great human being and a good teammate and the Seahawks knew what they were going to get each time he stepped on the football field. He was good, but not great, and Seattle didn’t need to spend as much money as Griffin was paid to re-sign him.
In a best-case scenario, Witherspoon comes in and is part of a rotation that includes Tre Flowers, D.J. Reed and maybe Quinton Dunbar and they all play near their best. That would be a very good cornerback group. And I don’t want to talk about the opposite of a best-case scenario as that is too scary.