Ever since Cedric Griffin signed that five-year extension, fans have been wondering when or if his defensive backfield mate Antoine Winfield is going to receive a similar deal. Most of the talk coming out of the Vikings and Winfield has pointed toward that deal definitely getting done – and, indeed, Winfield’s agent Ashanti Webb says he is currently engaged in “intense” negotiations with the team in hopes of making it happen. “We have talked very frequently and are both working very hard at it,” Webb told Judd Zulgad. “Usually with this much talking and negotiations it’s a good sign in a way because that’s how things get done. But we still have some ground we have to cover. … I would like to get this thing done. I know Antoine would like to get it done. But I can’t say at this point there is any frustration or I think it’s taken longer than I expected.”
He can’t say, at this point, that there’s any frustration – but get back to him in a couple of days after Antoine starts feeling that he’s being jerked around. Then watch Antoine’s happy-talk about wanting to retire a Viking morph into crabbing and bitching and threats not to show up to mini-camp. Not to get too down on Antoine who is a great player and a key part of our defense…but, let’s face it, the guy has a bit of Darren Sharper in him. He’s not above taking his toys and going home if somebody does something he doesn’t like. He proved this a couple years ago when he sat out the voluntary portion of the off-season program over “unspecified issues” that most people think had to do with his displeasure over the team’s handling of the quarterback position (Antoine wanted a solid veteran – maybe even Jeff Garcia – while Chilly wanted T-Jack).
Thankfully, everything still seems fine between Antoine and the Vikings. They’re working on a deal and Antoine says he’ll show up for everything. I have a funny feeling, though, that there is unpleasantness coming. Antoine will soon be 32, long-in-the-tooth for a cornerback (unless your name is Darrell Green), and my guess is the Vikes don’t want to go beyond two years. My other guess is that Antoine wants more than two years. History suggests that Antoine would not be above ditching OTAs again, to make sure everyone gets where he stands on things. I personally wouldn’t mind a little offseason drama, to break up the monotony of quarterback speculation and draft wanking, but then again, as last season indicated, a happy Antoine is a pretty damn effective Antoine. Maybe, for the sake of peace and harmony, the Vikings should just give Antoine his third year and get fancy with the numbers. Any more than three would be nuts though.