Antoine Winfield surprised by release by Vikings


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.

52 responses to “Antoine Winfield surprised by release by Vikings

  1. Nine years and we’re talking about one of the better corners in the league being “still able to play”.

    Remember not too long ago that Darrell Green was starting for the Redskins at corner, in his 19th season, still one of the fastest in the league and playing at a pro bowl level??? Where have those guys gone?

    Think we will be talking about Revis or Sherman in their 19th season? And before the subject starts, it has nothing to do with WR development. It’s about speed, instinct, durability and skill at the CB position.

  2. His article made no mention of the reason it happened was due to the money needed to re-sign Loadholt who the Bears were ready to make a huge push for at the last minute. Winfield was quite underpaid for his performance last season compared to average return on salary at CB.

  3. Please come to Denver, this is what we need, hart, sole, and grit. The opposite of reshard mendenhall and DRC.

  4. Don’t get me wrong, I bleed purple and all but last season was the exception for Winfields compared to his last few. I remember when going into the season I didn’t think he was gonna play all 16 but he surprised us all and played almost the whole season. Other than that, since he signed his last extension in 09 he hasnt been durable at all. Great character and best pound for pound tackler but better one year early than one year too late. This is a pivotal off season and 26 is a favorite of mine but this is a bussiness move purely. No one can stay forever…

  5. No one wants to be cut, nobody wants to do the cutting. I think these things in most teams get treated like ripping off the band-aid. Decision is made, it has to be done….do it. Sadly with a guy like Winfield who is loved by this team and community it feels like salt was rubbed into the wound after the band-aid was ripped off. He should have been an exception who deserved better treatment.

  6. As a Viking 4life since 1968 I hated to see this move. However as great a player and teammate as Antoine Winfield is keep in mind he would be a part time player. 7 1/2 million dollars as a part time player is tooooooooo damn much and at 36 years old you have to grow up enough to realize that it is in your best interest as a player to take a paycut. I don’t see anyone flocking to his agent at 36 years old demanding his services. I will miss you Antoine but as the Viking GM Spielman said-the door is open to come back-take him up on it!

  7. I really do hope they re-sign him in a style a la Deion Branch with the Patriots. If not, oh well I guess…

  8. No class…..NONE! This “MAN” is the anti-Moss/Harvin! Are you kidding me??? Just let him go like that??? Someone needs their a– kicked on this one! Winfield of all people??? SMH!

  9. I love Winfield but please, this happens to regular folks making regular salaries all the time. Assuming he hasn’t blown all his money he will be fine.

  10. This guy’s as solid as they come. Pound for pound, he has been one of the top 3 toughest NFL players in the past 15 years. Yes, he’s that good. He can cover like a blanket, and hit like a hammer. Antoine Winfield is a player.

  11. @manilarizzo – You are aware that Antoine Winfield, who will be 36 soon, began his career in Buffalo where he played for five seasons, correct? That gives him 14 years in the league, not nine.

    And while I agree Darrell Green was amazing, not only has the passing game changed quite a lot since his day but also Green was never the tackler Winfield was or even still is. That takes its toll.

  12. It’s a hard, cold business sometimes. Shame at the way some guys have to learn that.

    Winfield really did deserve better, but hey, that’s just how it goes sometimes. Good luck, Antoine. One of the league’s toughest, most physical corners might well find a home on a contender this way at least. Especially if he’s willing to move to safety, where it seems a lot of teams have need.

  13. I have read varying reports on whether or not the Vikings communicated with Winfield before releasing him, so I will take a wait and see. I was not happy with the release. Not because it was a bad business decision, but AW is one of those great talents that performed at a high level year in and year out for us, he was a great team leader, and a great community guy. So I hope the Vikings showed some class and went to him and asked him to restructure, and I hope we did it with class. AW is one of those players that deserves and has earned the right to be gi ven first class treament from the Vikings; I just hope they did it the right way?

  14. Yeah, he had a high price tag, but he was also this team’s best CB, and good CBs are hard to find.

    Time will tell is this ends up being a smart move, but for a team sorely needing to add quality at several positions already, this move adds nothing to the team, and more more significant position to the list of team needs.

    The Vikings now have a great deal of cap space. What have they done with it?

  15. Would love to see him in a purple uniform again, but doubt it happens. Spielman claiming it’s a possibility publicly was nothing more than a PR move. Hope you get to for a winner Antoine – Nobody at your position and size could deliver a hit like you. Good Luck!

  16. manilarizzo says: Mar 13, 2013 6:20 AM

    Nine years and we’re talking about one of the better corners in the league being “still able to play”.

    He’s been with the organization for nine years, but he’s been in the league for much longer. He was drafted by Buffalo in ’99 and is probably 36 years old at this point.

  17. I don’t like the way Spielman did business her at ALL.

    He should have approached the agent and discussed what they needed to do in order to keep him around.

    He deserves better than to just be outright released with no discussion, etc.

    It smells of Spielman doing it this way on PURPOSE so that Winfields opportunities elsewhere were diminished and Spielman would have leverage to bring him back at a lower price.

    I think this is a move that could come back to seriously haunt them this year. He is far and away their best corner and if he doesn’t have a plan to replace his level of play, they are SCREWED in terms of pass defense next year…

  18. The reality is hadn’t “formally” proposed a restructuring means they did propose one and he didn’t listen. Beyond that his cover skills simply aren’t what they used to be. Take the emotion out of it and see it for what it is, a business decision. The right one. After he doesn’t attract any other interest he might be back in Minnesota at a lesser price if his pride allows it.

  19. “As a vike fan i am sorry to see him go. He was nothing but class and he did deserve an opportunity for a restructure. Good luck Antonie!,”


  20. He was a nickel corner making $7+ mil, this couldn’t have came as that much of a surprise. It sounds like the Vikings want the play time and roster space for younger players just as much as the cap room.

  21. If it’s true that Spielman never so much as asked him about possibly restructuring his deal, and they just cut him out of the blue, then I think Winfield deserved better.

    After 100 tackles last season and playing like 90% of the snaps when he was supposed to be a nickel corner, and him being a team leader on defense, and having been a great player and community guy for the team for the past 9 years, you’d figure they owe him some decency.

    I don’t buy the explanation that it’s all due to the fact they needed cap space for Loadholt’s new deal that was more then they expected to pay. If they had no way of fitting Loadholt’s new deal under the cap and this was the only way, you’d still think they could have asked him about restructuring his deal so he can retire with the team. You also think they’d give him a heads up before free agency that they may need him to restructure his deal to clear cap space, or in worst case scenario he might be a cap casualty so his agent could do some homework. Not the way to treat one of your leaders on defense who’s been nothing other then a model player for you for 9 yrs.

  22. I know my Falcons only have about 4 mil in cap space but I hope we sign him. We need a good cover cb and a good tackler.

  23. Cry me a river on the “he deserved better” posts. Don’t get me wrong, I loveWinfield. I love the Vikings. But, I’m supposed to muster up resentment at one rich guy being cut off an NFL roster? I have news for you, MOST of us deserved better in life. But it just didn’t happen. Now shut up and enjoy football.

    BTW: from what I read Winfield declined to take a pay cut. He should have expected to be cut.

  24. Ok I understand moving Percy for his attitude but 26 was the polar opposite. If this is the way the team management behaves then it is time to remove Rick Zygi…for the same excuse you gave us for Percy.

  25. The thing they’re not mentioning is that the Vikes had previously spoken to Winfields agent about a restructure and they said it was a ‘No Go’. So what, did they want the Vikes to offer a restructure to insult AW?

  26. You can’t build a great team if you allow emotions to guide you. Winfield was a great player, and a player any team would be proud to have. Having said that, he’s also 36, has had numerous injuries in the past three years, is a great tackler, but has never been a truly shut-down” corner, and was going to be paid $7.2M this year, when the team wanted to begin to accelerate the playing time of some younger corners, (not counting anyone they may draft).
    Sad to see him go, but it’s time to move on and keep building

  27. Great all-time Viking, but I can’t believe he was that surprised. He was asked to take a pay cut and he refused. Why should the Vikings put an offer in front of him if he already told them he wasn’t taking a pay cut? I think he should have seen this coming.

  28. He needs to retire and immediately open the “Winfield School for Pro Tackling” as he is the best pure tackler in the game, and it is a lost art. If a guy who is “five foot nothin, a hundred and nothin” can tackle like that, there’s no excuse for anyone else in the league.

  29. He was asked to restructure his contract to help re- sign Loadholt and he refused. Instead of pulling a Tom Brady he pulled a James Harrison. The Vikings had no choice but to cut his 7.5 million cap hit. Do they want to keep him? Yes no doubt but will he take 3 million? He played great last year but still got burned bad a couple of times like the whole Indy game. He is a huge loss, lets hope the Vikings can get him to return but the cut should be no surprise when the team his trying to build a winner and you refuse to restructure your contract.

  30. He should be thankful… he’s been a Viking for a long time… if I were him, I’m begging Seattle to hire me for a season.

    Apparently Seattle wants to win a championship

  31. So many ex-Packer greats end up playing for the Vikings, never the other way around
    That’s because players know that going from the Vikings to the Packers would be like getting a demotion. The smart ones leave the Packers and come to the Vikings.

  32. Whether it was my dog with cancer or a veteran that can’t play every down and won’t take a pay cut, I know what I’d have to do.

    That doesn’t mean it feels good.

  33. tokyosandblaster says:Mar 13, 2013 6:15 AM

    That’s because the Vikings have no class whatsoever.
    So class must be signing a repeat drug abuser named Johnny Jolly?

  34. After reading the media scoops on the Winfield release, and coming from a Vike fan, I wish him best to find another team that plays the Vikes this season and he embarrasses the organization with the lights out performance that he brought to the field for 9 seasons. Hated to hear of this move and shame on you Mr. Spielman!

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