Tagged in: seahawks

Pittsburgh Steelers acquire CB Ahkello Witherspoon from Seattle Seahawks

After an initial 53-man roster that was short on cornerbacks, the Steelers have fortified the position by obtaining Ahkello Witherspoon in a trade with the Seahawks for a 2023 fifth-round pick, the teams revealed.

Witherspoon, 26, signed a one-year, $4 million deal with the Seahawks in March and was expected to compete for the starting job at left cornerback, but Seattle moved D.J. Reed over to the left side and Tre Flowers into the starting role at right cornerback, making Witherspoon a trade candidate. A day earlier, Seattle traded a 2022 sixth-round pick to the Jacksonville Jaguars for Sidney Jones.

Witherspoon was unsatisfied by being relegated to a backup role, a source told ESPN’s Brady Henderson. The Steelers will take on $1.5 million of Witherspoon’s salary, while the Seahawks save that amount against their cap. However, Seattle is still on the hook for $1.25 million in dead money in 2021 and 2022 from his signing bonus.

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Witherspoon was taken in the third round by San Francisco in 2017 and started 33 of 47 career games with the 49ers in four seasons. He recorded 116 tackles and four interceptions and had 24 passes defended.

The Steelers initially had just four cornerbacks on the 53-man roster following cuts: Cam Sutton, James Pierre, Justin Layne and Joe Haden. They added one more a day later, signing Arthur Maulet after moving three other players to injured reserve.

Before adding Maulet, defensive coordinator Keith Butler expressed apprehension about entering the season with so few cornerbacks.

“I don’t think anybody’s comfortable with four cornerbacks,” Butler said. “We’ve got guys who can play different positions. Cam can play different positions. He can play the nickel. Forty-two [Pierre] has shown that he can play in preseason.

“We think we’re OK right now to play them in different positions. If somebody becomes available out there in never-never land, we’ll see what happens.”

Witherspoon gives the Steelers depth at cornerback behind veterans Haden and Sutton, who emerged late in training camp as the likely slot cornerback after Mike Hilton’s departure. With Sutton in the slot, undrafted free agent Pierre was slated to be the outside cornerback opposite Haden.

The outside cornerback depth is young and relatively unproven, and Witherspoon’s experience elevates the position group.

The Steelers released defensive lineman Henry Mondeaux to make room on the roster for Witherspoon.

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Seattle Seahawks, Atlanta Falcons discuss Julio Jones trade

As the Falcons continue to field calls from teams interested in trading for Julio Jones, the Seahawks have had conversations about a possible trade with Atlanta for the wide receiver, sources told ESPN’s Dianna Russini.

Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson and Jones have been in touch, having phone conversations to discuss the option of playing together, Russini reported.

Seattle already boasts a talented wide receiver corps led by DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, who each had 10 touchdown receptions and more than 1,000 yards receiving last season.

Sources told Russini on Thursday that the Falcons have an offer of a future first-round draft pick on the table for Jones. Atlanta has asked teams that have inquired about Jones for a first-round draft pick in return, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter last Monday.

The Seahawks do not have a first-round pick in 2022 after sending it to the New York Jets last year to get safety Jamal Adams.

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The rumor mill around Jones started last month when general manager Terry Fontenot told reporters his team would be taking calls about the All-Pro receiver.

Then, on Monday, Jones said “I’m outta there,” when asked about the Falcons in a telephone call with FS1’s Shannon Sharpe on the network’s “Undisputed” show. It is unclear whether Jones knew the phone call was being televised.

Jones, 32, requested a trade from the Falcons at the beginning of the offseason in March, but the organization was trying to protect him and work quietly behind the scenes, a source told Schefter, and has been talking to other teams for weeks. The Falcons prefer not to trade him in the NFC but would do so for the right price, the source said.

The Tennessee Titans have also discussed a trade with the Falcons, but a source described the Titans’ probabilities of landing Jones as a “long shot” to Russini on Thursday.

It is likely that Jones will not be traded until after June 1 because of the salary-cap benefits for the Falcons. Jones, whose base salary of $15.3 million is fully guaranteed for this season, is scheduled to cost the Falcons $23.05 million against the cap in 2021 and has cap hits of $19.263 million in 2022 and 2023.

If the Falcons move Jones after June 1, the move would offer Atlanta relief against the cap this season because the dead money owed to him would be split between this season and next.

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Seattle Seahawks talk to Richard Sherman, but no reunion imminent as DB mulls future

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll confirmed that he’s been in communication with Richard Sherman, but stated a reunion with the former All-Pro cornerback isn’t currently in the works.

“That’s not one of our thoughts right now that we’re going out and getting another guy at that spot, but we’re going to keep looking,” Carroll said Saturday, after the Seahawks took Oklahoma CB Tre Brown with one of their three draft picks.

“We’re not going to stop looking and we’re going to compete. So in that sense, I leave everything open and that’s just one of them.”

The 33-year-old Sherman is a free agent after spending the past three campaigns with the San Francisco 49ers.

In an interview with ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith on Friday, he said a return to San Francisco isn’t out of the question and listed the Seahawks, New Orleans Saints and Las Vegas Raiders as other teams with which he’s had communication.

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“I’ve got to wait through this draft process,” he told Smith. “Obviously, the first round, a lot of teams got corners, some teams didn’t get the corners they wanted and I think once this draft process completes my phone will ring a little more with people who expected to get a guy and didn’t get the guy they wanted. I’m not as in control as I was. At 33, it’s just like, it doesn’t matter what you put on tape.”

Sherman suggested that his age is the reason he’s unsigned

“It doesn’t matter accolades you have, what you put on tape, the numbers — it’s just age sometimes. So I’ve just got to continue to stay in shape, continue to stay ready … I’m being patient and doing everything I can.”

Sherman made four Pro Bowls and was named a First Team All-Pro in three of his seven seasons with Seattle, rising from a fifth-round pick in 2011 to become a key member of the defense that led the Seahawks to their lone Super Bowl championship and a close repeat the next year.

He suffered a torn Achilles in 2017 and was released that offseason with one year left on his contract. The 49ers then signed him to a three-year deal that just expired.

Sherman made his fifth career Pro Bowl in 2019 but missed 11 matches last year with a calf injury.

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Pass-rusher Aldon Smith signs with Seattle Seahawks

Former Dallas Cowboys defensive end Aldon Smith has signed with Seattle, the Seahawks revealed Thursday.

The 31-year-old Smith adds to what was already a deep collection of edge rushers in Seattle. The Seahawks re-signed Carlos Dunlap and Benson Mayowa, added Kerry Hyder and return Jamal Adams, L.J. Collier, Alton Robinson, Rasheem Green and Darrell Taylor.

After being reinstated from an indefinite suspension that lasted from 2016 to 2019 for multiple off-field incidents and violations of the NFL’s substance abuse policy, Smith joined the Cowboys in 2020 on a one-year deal worth up to $4 million based on some incentives.

The Seahawks had strong interest in Smith last offseason before he signed with Dallas, a source told ESPN.

Smith was informed on March 24 that he would not be re-signed by the Cowboys, a source told ESPN. He started the 2020 campaign strong with a three-sack outing in Week 3 versus the Seahawks, but he concluded the year with five sacks.

He was second to DeMarcus Lawrence on the Cowboys with 33 quarterback pressures and had 48 tackles, five tackles for loss and two fumble recoveries, returning one for a touchdown.

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Smith played in every game, seeing action on 808 defensive snaps — the most among Cowboys defensive linemen and fourth most on the defense. All that work may have played a part in a late-season fade and some injuries.

He quickly rose to stardom with a record 33.5 sacks in his first two NFL seasons with the San Francisco 49ers, with that total rising to a record 42 after three seasons. However, Smith got sidetracked off the field.

In 2013, Smith was arrested on suspicion of DUI after crashing his truck into a tree in a residential neighborhood in San Jose, California. In 2014, the NFL suspended him for nine games for violating the league’s personal conduct and substance abuse policies.

In August 2015, Smith was released by the Niners the day after he was arrested on hit-and-run, DUI and vandalism charges. He signed with the Raiders a month later but was suspended for a year for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.

Smith was released by the Raiders in 2018 after he was arrested on multiple charges, including domestic violence, assault and false imprisonment.

Smith pleaded no contest to a pair of misdemeanor charges in November 2018 to settle his domestic violence case from earlier that year.

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Green Bay Packers claim Damon ‘Snacks’ Harrison off waivers

Another run-stopper is on the way to the Green Bay Packers to perhaps help them evade getting run out of the playoffs like last campaign.

Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst claimed Damon “Snacks” Harrison off waivers on Wednesday, according to the NFL transaction wire.

The Packers did not informed the move.

The Seahawks waived the 32-year-old defensive tackle on Monday after Harrison requested his release. All players waived at this point in the season are subject to waivers, and Harrison said in a tweet after his release that he was not interested in getting claimed.

However, in response to a tweet that suggested he might actually play for the Packers given that they’re a Super Bowl team and one that was on his list of teams he planned to meet with before he signed with Seattle earlier this season, Harrison responded with a one-word tweet that read: “Bingo.”

A source told ESPN that Harrison assured the Packers he would report to and play for Green Bay.

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The Packers rank 14th in rushing yards permitted but 24th in yards per carry — a slight improvement over last season. But their run defense let them down in the NFC Championship Game, when the San Francisco 49ers rushed for 285 yards en route to the Super Bowl.

If the Packers (12-3) triumph Sunday’s regular-season finale versus the Chicago Bears, they would be the No. 1 seed in the NFC and have a first-round playoff bye. Even if they have to play on wild-card weekend, they could get Harrison through the COVID-19 protocols and ready for that weekend.

They were granted a roster exemption for Harrison.

The Seahawks signed Harrison to the practice squad Oct. 7 and he made his first appearance in a game on Nov. 15 versus the Los Angeles Rams. He played 138 total snaps in six games before he requested his release.

At the time, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll was under the impression that Harrison no longer wanted to play. “He’s decided to stop playing,” Carroll said Monday during an appearance on 710 ESPN Seattle.

“He’s done playing. I talked to him this morning. He’s in good spirits and all of that. He’s really grateful for the opportunity in playing here, and he did really well by us, but he just … he’s done.”

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Seattle Seahawks designate Quinton Dunbar, Rashaad Penny as returns to practice

The Seahawks designated cornerback Quinton Dunbar (injured reserve) and running back Rashaad Penny (physically unable to perform) to return to practice this week.

Dunbar has missed the past four games with a knee injury. Penny, Seattle’s 2018 first-round pick, is working his way back from the ACL tear he suffered last December.

Coach Pete Carroll said Dunbar would practice Wednesday but didn’t offer any assurance he’ll play Sunday versus the New York Jets, saying the Seahawks don’t have to rush him back with how well D.J. Reed has played of late.

The Seahawks listed 23 players on their injury report Wednesday.

Running backs Chris Carson (foot) and Carlos Hyde (toe) were limited. Carroll stated Carson was feeling better Monday and that he was hoping he could handle a “full load” this week after carrying eight and 13 times in his first two games back.

With players coming off extended absences like Penny, the Seahawks usually like to see them practice for at least two weeks before letting them to play in a game.

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“We’re really excited to get him back and get him back on the field with us,” Carroll said of Penny. “It’s just been a long haul. It’s very meaningful for him to get back out there, first of all. You really want to see him bang his break and really get down and hit it and give really good tempo in practice.”

Right tackle Brandon Shell, out the past two games with a high ankle sprain, was listed as a limited participant in his first practice since the injury Wednesday.

Carroll said Shell would be plenty motivated to make it back this week so he could play against his former team. Shell spent his first four campaigns with the Jets before signing with Seattle in March and was having a strong debut season with the Seahawks before his injury.

“We’ll ease him back in,” Carroll said. “He’s real anxious to get back. It seems like he’s ready to go.”

Carroll said it won’t be until the end of the week that the team knows what possibilities safety Ryan Neal (hip pointer) or tackle Jamarco Jones (groin) have of playing Sunday. Neither practiced Wednesday.

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Seattle Seahawks release veteran TE Luke Willson

The Seattle Seahawks released veteran tight end Luke Willson on Tuesday.

The 30-year-old Willson has played sparingly this campaign as the Seahawks’ No. 4 tight end behind Greg Olsen, Will Dissly and Jacob Hollister. They just activated rookie fourth-round pick Colby Parkinson from the non-football injury list, adding to their logjam at the position.

Seattle also has undrafted rookie Tyler Mabry on its practice squad as well as rookie seventh-round pick Stephen Sullivan, who plays tight end and defensive end. Sullivan made his NFL debut at defensive end Sunday after being elevated for the Seahawks’ victory over the San Francisco 49ers.

Willson has played 10 offensive snaps in five games without a target. Willson was a fifth-round pick by the Seahawks in 2013, the year they won Super Bowl XLVIII. He spent his first five seasons with Seattle and played for the Detroit Lions in 2018 before returning to the Seahawks the following year.

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Releasing Willson will leave the Seahawks with two open spots on their 53-man roster, which figure to be filled by defensive ends Carlos Dunlap and Rasheem Green. The Seahawks now have a roster exemption for Dunlap after acquiring him in a trade last week with the Cincinnati Bengals.

Coach Pete Carroll has said he expects Green to return this week off injured reserve.

In other Seahawks news, wide receiver Phillip Dorsett had surgery Tuesday to repair the foot injury that’s sidelined him all season. A source told ESPN that part of the issue with Dorsett’s foot was bone spurs that needed to be cleaned out. He had been able to run but wasn’t 100%. There’s some hope that Dorsett can return later this season, the source said, but it’s not a sure thing.

Dorsett has been on injured reserve since late September and has been eligible to return. Asked about Dorsett’s status on Monday, coach Pete Carroll made it clear he wasn’t coming back anytime soon.

“Phillip Dorsett is not doing well,” he stated. “His foot has really not responded. We’ll let you know. We haven’t done anything about that yet but he’s not ready to go.”

Asked if surgery was a probability, Carroll said: “It’s not ready to be disclosed yet to tell you what’s going on, but it’s not looking good for the near future, and he’s been doing everything he can and is frustrated and all that. So in the next couple days, we’ll get a little more clarity on it.”

The Seahawks signed the former first-round pick to a one-year, minimum-salary deal in March. Their offense has been leading the NFL in scoring, with Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf tied for the league lead in touchdown receptions at seven apiece. 

David Moore, rookie Freddie Swain and Penny Hart are the other wide receivers on Seattle’s 53-man roster.

Josh Gordon remains on the reserve/suspended list as he awaits reinstatement by the NFL from his indefinite suspension. Also Tuesday, the Seahawks waived linebackers Mychal Kendricks and Michael Divinity off their practice squad.

One of those open spots on the practice squad could go to running back Alex Collins, who started COVID-19 testing Friday.

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