With the Seahawks ready to cut him, veteran cornerback Antoine Winfield instead will announcement his retirement, Sean Jensen reported. Seattle coach Pete Carroll confirmed the news on Twitter, writing: "Wishing Antoine Winfield the best in his decision to retire. He's a consummate pro and a great team player. We were lucky to have him!"
The 36-year-old Winfield apparently had been beaten out for Seattle's No. 3/slot cornerback job by Walter Thurmond, which left him on the roster bubble and trade block. CBSSports' Jason La Canfora a reported that the Seahawks were looking to trade Winfield before Saturday's 6 p.m. ET roster deadline, by which time all teams in the NFL had to have their rosters pared down to 53 players. That revelation came as a bit of a shock, given that Winfield graded out as Pro Football Focus's top cornerback in all of football last season.
He signed a one-year, $2 million deal with Seattle this season and was expected to man the slot, alongside starters Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman. However, Thurmond turned in an impressive preseason to wrestle that job away -- the 26-year-old Thurmond saw almost 100 more snaps than Winfield during Seattle's preseason schedule.
Thurmond, a 2010 draft pick of the Seahawks, has five NFL starts under his belt, though he has landed on injured reserve twice in three seasons. But Carroll has never been one to hold a lineup spot for someone based on past performance, so Thurmond's impressive start to 2013 may have shown him enough to force Winfield out the door.
Had he reached free agency again, Winfield no doubt would have generated plenty of interest, including from Washington and Minnesota, his former team. La Canfora mentioned that both those teams had been interested in Winfield prior to his signing with Seattle, and they each could use an upgrade at cornerback.
Those teams and others will have to look elsewhere. If Winfield does indeed hang up his cleats, he will have done so after an impressive 14-year career. Winfield was the No. 22 overall pick by Buffalo back in 1999; he played five seasons for the Bills before joining the Vikings in 2004. There, he made 115 starts, picked off 21 passes and was named to three Pro Bowls.