Monday, July 27, 2009

Winfield's new deal

So, about Antoine Winfield...

The new deal is reported to be a 5-year deal with $16 million guaranteed that could be worth as much as $36 million, with incentives, making it potentially similar to the 6-year, $33 million deal he signed during the 2003-04 offseason. The difference, of course, is that Winfield is now five years older and will be 36 years old when this new deal expires. As I pointed out earlier, cornerbacks in their mid-30s don't typically turn in great seasons. Even so, this is probably a pretty good contract for the Vikings.

While Winfield did have a career year last year, making his first Pro Bowl at the age of 31, it would be foolish to expect him to maintain that same high level of play as he advances through his 30s, even if he stays healthy. By committing only $16 million guaranteed to Winfield, the Vikings make a relatively small investment should he fall completely off the map and a slightly larger one if he does defy the odds and continue to produce Pro Bowl-caliber seasons. Winfield is clearly a unique cornerback, given his great tackling skills, so it's possible he won't decline much.

Even if he does lose a (or perhaps "another") step or two, he can serve as an insurance policy against Madieu Williams and Tyrell Johnson, if either should suffer lasting injuries or their quality of play should drop. Winfield would seem like a natural for a safety position if his duties as a cornerback prove too much as he ages, and the Vikings have a few potential replacements (such as Marcus McCauley and Asher Allen) for the other corner spot opposite Cedric Griffin, should Winfield be needed elsewhere. There might be some issue about whether Winfield would accept a "demotion" to safety -- his twice grousing about his contract leads me to think he's not exactly the definition of a "team player" -- but that's a distraction we won't have to worry about until at least after this year, when Brad Childress gets replaced by a coach who displays a smidge of authority (I can hope).

Here's the kicker, though, and why this contract could potentially be great for the Vikings: A major holdup in the signing of the contract was said to be the Vikings' unwillingness to tie up a bunch of money in Winfield while they were still courting Brett Favre and trying to keep enough money available for his eventual signing. Maybe, just maybe, they actually got tired of waiting for him and signed Winfield with some of the money earmarked for His Favreness, who will now decide that the piddling few millions the Vikings are willing to pay him aren't enough to come down off his throne and mingle with the commoners in training camp. If all that proves true, this might very well be the best contract the Vikings have ever given out.

1 comment:

Peter said...

Winfield will make quality depth at safety whenever he's no longer a starting corner, but I've read a lot about him being a nickel db. (Personally, I'd like to see more nickel packages used by Frazier... the front four plus Greenway and Henderson are ample for stopping the run and applying pressure.) In that scenario, there are plenty of corners who could provide depth at safety also, but I don't know who the best choice would be. Sapp? Paymah? Someone else?