The Seahawks signed free agent cornerback Dontae Johnson Wednesday, the team announced, confirming an earlier report from NFL Media’s Mike Garafolo.
The 6-2, 200-pound Johnson, a fourth-round pick in 2014, started all 16 games last season for the 49ers. But San Francisco recently signed another cornerback you may have heard of — Richard Sherman — making Johnson expendable and giving the Seahawks a need for another veteran. No terms were immediately available.
It’s known the Seahawks have been in talks with Byron Maxwell, who ended last season as Seattle’s other starting cornerback and remains unsigned. But the signing of Johnson might mean Maxwell will now look elsewhere. Seattle’s agreement with Johnson comes a day after it was reported he had visited the Vikings.
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The 26-year-old Johnson may be best known for picking off a Blake Bortles pass and returning it for a touchdown to spark a late-season 44-33 win for the 49ers over the Jaguars.
But he did not rate real high in Pro Football Focus’ cornerback grades for 2017 at 36.7, allowing a passer rating of 108.7 and a catch percentage when receivers he was covering were targeted of 65.1.
The Seahawks now have seven cornerbacks under contract for 2018 — Johnson, Griffin, Coleman, DeAndre Elliott, Neiko Thorpe, Mike Tyson and Akeem King, though it’s also thought King could be tried as a safety.
Johnson is the eighth free agent signed by Seattle since the signing period began last month joining DE/LB Barkevious Mingo, TE Ed Dickson, WR Jaron Brown, S Maurice Alexander, guard D.J. Fluker and defensive tackles Tom Johnson and Shamar Stephen.
While depth at the position is starting to take shape, the team’s cornerback situation isn’t completely settled yet. Griffin and Johnson will man the outsides with Justin Coleman continuing his work in the slot. Everyone else is competing to knock them off their respective perches. But the draft still looms to add more competition.