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Seahawks finalize Witherspoon’s $31m rookie deal after brief holdout

Publish Date:07/29/2023
Fact checked by: Mike Goodpaster
Video: First Look At Devon Witherspoon At The Seahawks Training Camp

First Look At Devon Witherspoon At The Seahawks Training Camp

No. 5 overall pick Devon Witherspoon has finally ended his holdout and agreed to a rookie contract with the Seattle Seahawks. The deal was finalized on Friday noon after intense negotiations.

Witherspoon’s four-year rookie deal includes a fully guaranteed $31.86 million and a $20.2 million signing bonus. This agreement officially makes him the last of the 259 draft selections to sign.

Witherspoon is the highest draft pick for Seattle since coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider took charge in 2010. During his time at Illinois in 2022, Witherspoon demonstrated his defensive skills with three interceptions and 17 passes defended. He amassed five interceptions and 30 pass breakups throughout his college career.

Witherspoon is currently considered a strong contender for the Defensive Rookie of the Year title in 2023. The Caesars Sportsbook gives him +700 odds, ranking him fourth-best in the league.

Missing camp’s opening

Witherspoon was previously absent during the opening of the Seahawks training camp on Wednesday. At the time, he still had an ongoing disagreement with the team over his rookie contract.

The main point of contention was the payment schedule of his $21.17 million signing bonus. Witherspoon pushed for a larger portion of the bonus to be paid upfront. On the other hand, Seattle preferred to spread it out for cash-flow reasons.

Comparatively, Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud and Anthony Richardson — the three quarterbacks taken ahead of Witherspoon in April — reportedly received 100 percent of their signing bonuses upfront. Likewise, the Houston Texans’ third overall pick, outside linebacker Will Anderson Jr., had an 85 percent/15 percent split with his bonus.

In 2021, New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson made headlines when he held out over contract disputes. Wilson was the last top-five pick to miss the start of training camp. He eventually signed his rookie contract after two days of camp had passed.

After officially signing the contract, Witherspoon participated in his first training-camp practice with the Seahawks in front of enthusiastic fans. He finally joined the cornerback line for the Seahawks’ pre-practice conditioning.

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