Vikings CB Antoine Winfield was the smallest player on the roster in 2008. And depending on how this year’s roster cuts go, it’s likely he’ll also be the smallest player on the roster in 2009. But anyone who has watched a Vikings game since 2004 knows that although Winfield is the smallest player on the field, he makes one of the largest impacts for the Vikings defense.
It was with that in mind that the Vikings decided to work with Winfield and his agent, Ashanti Webb, on a contract extension that would keep #26 in a Vikings uniform for the duration of his career. However, as the Star Tribune’s Judd Zulgad pointed out in a blog entry, there was much more to this particular contract negotiation than meets the eye.
There’s no doubting the value Winfield adds to the Vikings defense. But one must also remember that Winfield is 32 years old, and it’s not very often that you see teams racing through negotiations to extend the contract of a 30+ year old CB. In fact, this particular scenario was so unusual, according to Webb, that the Vikings and Webb really had little to work with in terms of a precedent. Often times in contract negotiations, a team and player representative will reference the contracts of other players in the league who are in similar circumstances.
For this particular negotiation, though, no relevent precedent really existed. Add in the fact that Winfield still had another year left on his existing deal, and you can see why there was a pointed ebb and flow to this negotiation.
“Working with [VP of Football Operations] Rob (Brzezinski) was really good,” Webb said. “It was a tough situation because we had nothing to go by. This was an unprecedented deal. If you look at some veteran players – the Kurt Warners and Alan Fanecas and Ray Lewises – they’ve done deals but they had to play it out (to the end of the contract). Randy Moss and T.O., they had to play it out. But to do it a year early, for a cornerback, we had nothing (to use as a precedent). We had to go back to Ty Law years ago to find a true cornerback deal where the guy is playing well and the team wants to keep him.
“The Vikings wanted to get it done, that was never the issue. And we wanted to get it done. I think it came out to be a good masterpiece for both sides. Everybody got what they wanted. Antoine got the security he was looking for and the Vikings got the player they wanted and I’m very comfortable with the numbers in the deal.”
Although there was an ebb and flow to the negotiations, Winfield said on Thursday that he was confident throughout the process that a new deal would be done.
“I knew eventually a contract would get done, either during the season or when the season ended,” Winfield said. “I was going to end up retiring a Viking. No player wants to go into a final year; there are just too many risks. Especially at my age – being thirty-two – and having to move the family and do all those kinds of things. I’m glad it worked out.
“I really do enjoy playing for this organization. I enjoy my teammates, my coaches, this city, I’m very familiar with it. I’ve been here five years. The respect the Vikings showed; they didn’t have to do this deal. I still had a year on my contract, but they knew I wanted to be here and they wanted me here, so that’s why we got a deal done.”
Tags: Antoine Winfield, Rob Brzezinski
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