Rookie Devon Witherspoon Unsigned and Absent from Seahawks TC
RENTON, Wash. (AP) — Devon Witherspoon's first training camp practice was going to be notable for being the highest draft pick in recent memory by the Seattle Seahawks to take the field.
The opening day of Seahawks' training camp on Wednesday instead became notable due to Witherspoon's absence as he remained the only unsigned player from this year's rookie class.
Witherspoon, a cornerback from Illinois, was the fifth overall pick by the Seahawks, but he was still unsigned as camp kicked off.
Seattle coach Pete Carroll sounded hopeful a resolution would come soon.
“He's not here today. He knows everything he needs to know,” Carroll said. “I can't imagine he won't be here very soon.”
Witherspoon is due a four-year contract worth a guaranteed $31.8 million as the terms of being selected fifth overall, though there appears to be an impasse around bonus money he would be due.
Seattle signed running back Zach Charbonnet, one of two second-round picks for the Seahawks, on Tuesday. He was the only other rookie for Seattle that had yet to sign.
Witherspoon was the highest pick for Seattle with Carroll and general manager John Schneider. The Seahawks held the No. 5 pick as a result of the trade of Russell Wilson to Denver before the 2022 season.
“He knows what is going on right now and we'll see what happens,” Carroll said.
Witherspoon took part in all of Seattle's offseason program in the spring, but rookies missing training camp practices due to contract disputes have become rare since the implementation of the rookie wage scale more than a decade ago.
Seattle also placed six players on the physically unable to perform list before the start of camp, including safety Jamal Adams, linebacker Jordyn Brooks, tight end Noah Fant, defensive tackle Bryan Mone and cornerback Riq Woolen.
The PUP designations for most of the players was expected. Adams, Brooks and Mone all had major surgeries last season and were going to be brought along slowly during training camp, with Adams seemingly the only one with a reasonable chance of being ready for the start of the regular season. Woolen had minor knee surgery in May, and Carroll said Fant had a minor knee procedure.
Where Adams (quadriceps tendon) and Brooks (ACL) stand in their recoveries garnered the most attention with each coming back from major injuries and would be starters if healthy.
“Both guys come in really in good shape. They're close to being ready. None of us — our side of it, the players side of it — want to push it until we get more information here, take our time, judge our way through this thing and make sure we really take care of them,” Carroll said. “So that's what we're doing and that's why we counted on the PUP thing with those guys.”
Players on PUP can be activated off the list at any time during training camp. It only becomes an issue if they are still on the list at the start of the regular season, in which case a player has to miss the first four games.
Carroll said the goal is for all the players on the PUP list to be “in shape to practice,” before moving forward with taking them off the list. As for Brooks and Adams and their status for the season, Carroll hedged on whether either would be available for Week 1 against the Los Angeles Rams.
“It's possible. I'm not counting on that. I'm not thinking about that right now. I just want to get them back and get them right," Carroll said. "Whenever that happens, it happens. In the mean time other guys have to do their thing to step up and that's what we're counting on.”
Uchenna Nwosu signed a three-year extension with $32 million guaranteed earlier this week, a move that solidifies the edge rusher as a core piece of Seattle's defense moving forward.
Nwosu said his first year in Seattle went so well that he didn't want to take any chances and opted to move forward on an extension now rather than playing out this season and potentially becoming a free agent.
“I just want to be here,” Nwosu said. "It just makes sense for me to be here, so why would I want to chance going somewhere else when I’m right at home being here.”
Nwosu tied for the team lead with 9 1/2 sacks last season.