Antoine Winfield was completely caught by surprise when he was informed the Minnesota Vikings were releasing him on Tuesday.
According to Dan Wiederer of the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Winfield had been working out at the team’s facility just prior to the beginning of free agency when he was summoned upstairs and handed his walking papers in a dismissal that “proved incredibly awkward.”
The move itself isn’t all that surprising with Winfield scheduled to make $7.25 million next season. However, Winfield had spent the last nine years playing in Minnesota and being released by the team without any warning on the precipice of free agency beginning caught Winfield off-guard. Vikings general manager Rick Spielman repeatedly said during a press conference Tuesday that they wouldn’t rule out a possible return of Winfield to the team, but, per Wiederer, Winfield was led to believe otherwise.
“After nine years in the organization, the cornerback believed he deserved better, that he was owed more. On top of that, the source said, contrary to other published reports, the Vikings never had formally proposed a possible restructuring of Winfield’s contract as a means of keeping him.”
The move puts Winfield in a tough position as he enters the market. Players set to be free agents have had the entire weekend for their agents to explore interest from other teams. Winfield now has to play catch-up in looking for a new place to play.
Winfield still can play. He had a really strong season for the Vikings last year in racking up 101 tackles and three interceptions. Winfield is bound to get interest on the market, he just wasn’t expecting to have to find a new place to call home.