The Seattle Seahawks moved quickly to address a need in the defensive backfield. They are expected to sign former San Francisco cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon, according to a person with knowledge of the deal.
The person spoke to The Associated Press on Tuesday on condition of anonymity because the deal has not been finalized and cannot be announced by the team until after the new league year begins on Wednesday.
The addition of Witherspoon was a critical move for the Seahawks after starting cornerback Shaquill Griffin agreed to a three-year deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars earlier Tuesday.
Witherspoon is a likely candidate to take over the starting spot left open by Griffin’s departure, with D.J. Reed and Tre Flowers expected to compete for the other starting cornerback job. Seattle still will need additional depth at the position with Quinton Dunbar possibly departing in free agency.
The deal with Witherspoon is the only move by the Seahawks so far, continuing with their traditional approach of being mostly quiet in the first waves of free agency.
The Niners picked Witherspoon in the third round of the 2017 draft and he showed good flashes as a rookie while starting nine games on a team that struggled defensively.
He had an inconsistent second season when he allowed seven TD passes in coverage, according to game-tracking data from SportsInfo Solutions, but still began the 2019 season as the starter.
Witherspoon hurt his foot early that season and struggled when he returned, allowing seven more TD passes, according to SIS. He was eventually benched for Emmanuel Moseley before San Francisco’s playoff run that reached the Super Bowl before losing to Kansas City.
Witherspoon played better in 2020 when healthy but the Niners didn’t make a strong run to keep him after agreeing to deals with cornerbacks Jason Verrett and Moseley.
Witherspoon has four interceptions and 24 passes defensed in 47 career games.
AP Pro Football Writer Josh Dubow contributed to this report.