It’s always weird writing about all the NFL deals at this point in the year, because the numbers rarely seem to be known in totality until guys actually sign. We’re in that time when all the contracts are announced by NFL insiders, but all they really have are the broadstrokes.
Anyway, Poona Ford is back with the Seahawks. He signed for 2 years and something approaching $14 million, with over $4.4 million in 2021. He was going to be a restricted free agent – likely with a second round tender – which would have been less dollars in the short term, but this is a nice middle ground or both the player and the team.
Poona’s likely not going anywhere before 2022, so he gets a hefty bump in total earnings. Remember, this was a guy who went undrafted. He’s earned less than $2 million total over the first three seasons of his career. He’s also a guy, not for nothing, who is a run-stuffing defensive tackle. Those aren’t guys who command a lot of salary cap attention. He has 2.5 career sacks.
That being said, 2.0 of those sacks came in 2020. This is a guy who has always played at a high level respective to both his position and where he was rated coming out of college. But, he really seems to be on an upswing. Pairing him with Jarran Reed in the middle of that line is probably the best defensive tackle combo we’ve had since Cortez Kennedy and Sam Adams. If Poona’s trajectory continues, we could be looking at a real steal over the next two years.
So, Poona gets paid, the Seahawks don’t have to worry about the interior of that D-Line for a little while longer, and coming back around, Poona will only be 28 years old when this deal expires, so he’s well within logical reason to cash in again in two years. If nothing else, the floor is high with him, so even if we get exactly what we’ve gotten from him to date, it’s a good deal. But, I believe there’s more left in the tank.
The other deal that popped up was the 1-year signing of cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon. This came on the heels of Shaquill Griffin signing his deal with Jacksonville, which makes it especially interesting. I’ll be honest, I didn’t know who Witherspoon was before yesterday, even though he’s played his entire career in San Francisco, one of our biggest rivals. So, I had no idea – for instance – that he also came from the same 2017 draft as Griffin, and that they were both third round draft picks. In fact, Witherspoon was taken 24 picks AHEAD of Griffin. Now, that’s obviously meaningless in the grand scheme of things; Griffin has proven himself to be a Pro Bowl-calibre player, whereas Witherspoon was oft-benched and considered largely a disappointment by the 49ers.
But, by all accounts, Witherspoon came on towards the end of the 2020 season. I don’t know if that’s a product of their schedule – the last four games the 49ers played last year were against struggling offenses, including Seattle’s in the finale – or if something finally clicked with him, but he’s 6’2 and he came from a quality secondary in Colorado that the Seahawks were obviously fond of. You have to wonder, then, if the Seahawks would have selected Witherspoon over Griffin, had both been available to them where they selected. Might Witherspoon – being in Seattle’s system all along – have thrived in his first four years? We’ll never know, but he’s still young enough to at least come in and compete with Tre Flowers for a spot.
I wouldn’t expect a lot out of Witherspoon. In fact, I think the Seahawks will continue adding to this position – with a name or two that we DO know – to really bolster the competition factor now that Griffin has walked. Quinton Dunbar isn’t off the table, is what I’m saying here. The hope for Witherspoon, though, is that he shows enough to stick as a depth piece, and improves as the season goes along and he has a number of practice weeks under his belt to acclimate to our way of playing defense. At 1 year, $4 million, I think that’s a reasonable price to pay for a potential lottery pick.