A couple of months ago when Pete Carroll and John Schneider brought in free agent tight end Visanthe Shiancoe for a visit, I was all but convinced the Seahawks would be signing him to a deal soon after.
Everything about Shiancoe, the former Viking, seemed like a logical fit into Seattle’s offense —
- He was a favorite end zone target of Brett Favre, catching 56 balls and scoring 11 touchdowns in 2009
- Incredibly, he hasn’t missed a game in his 8-year career, making his age (32) seem irrelevant
- He’s familiar with a west coast system, having played under offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell when the two were in Minnesota
But that all changed at the drop of a hat when new Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano grew disenchanted with another prolific tight end in the league — Kellen Winslow.
The Seahawks put in a call almost immediately when Winslow ostensibly became available for a trade yesterday, and acquired the Pro Bowl tight end for a meager 2013 draft pick — a 7th rounder, with the possibility of becoming a 6th, should Winslow perform well.
Questions about Winslow’s work ethic and health have been fairly constant over the past few years, but what’s also been constant over the same time has been Winslow’s level of play. He hasn’t missed a game in three years, and caught 75 passes for Tampa Bay last year amidst shaky quarterback play and a lackluster offense. That was the fourth time in the past six seasons that Winslow caught 75 passes or more. From a blocking standpoint, he’s also an upgrade over departed TE John Carlson, and should be a difference-maker on the field — especially in two-tight end sets with Zach Miller on the field.
That’s something else that’s going to turn some heads: With the Winslow trade, the Seahawks now have two of the best pass-catching tight ends in the NFL. This presents a veritable matchup nightmare for most linebacking corps the Seahawks face each season (I’m looking at you, Arizona), and bumps the team up to the next level when facing top-tier defenses such as San Francisco. When safeties have their hands full with Winslow and Miller, (not to mention when stacking the box against Lynch), Sidney Rice and Doug Baldwin can find open ground easier and force more one-on-one coverage situations.
A healthy Rice, or even Mike Williams, with his size and physicality, is a whole different story for opposing defenses to worry about.
Signing Winslow, as much of an out-of-nowhere play that it was, has potentially taken the Seahawks one notch above where they were last week. Does it immediately give them 9 wins instead of 7? Or 10 instead of 9? That much remains to be seen, but their chances of getting there this season are now one step closer.