Antoine Winfield has elected not to participate in any of this week’s OTAs, which would not be a big deal except that he also skipped mandatory minicamp, using a funeral as an excuse, and all because he is unhappy about still not having a contract extension worked out with the team. On Thursday, Winfield finally made a verbal statement to go with the rather large non-verbal statement he already made by blowing off the mandatory camp and OTAs.
“I want all to know that I’m not at OTA’s because I don’t want to be there,” Winfield said. “I do want to be there! As I have stated before, I want to finish my career a Viking.”
Antoine’s phrasing is, needless to say, incredibly awkward and totally misleading unless you read the whole thing, which makes it abundantly clear that he really would prefer to be on the practice field with his teammates but has decided to make it about him and his contract. I think Antoine is reacting somewhat based on what went down with Matt Birk last year, when Birk was apparently expecting at least to talk to the Vikings about a contract extension, but found himself being shut out. The difference is that Birk only skipped voluntary activities, hardly an odd thing for a veteran to do anyway, while Antoine bailed on a mandatory portion of the off-season program, albeit for a seemingly legitimate reason.
Antoine may be thinking now that, if they’d do Birk like that – make him sweat it until after the season, then throw a low offer on the table – they will also do him, which perhaps makes him feel unappreciated. Unfortunately Antoine, like Birk, is getting up in years, and may not be worth the risk a long-term contract would entail. So he and the team appear to be at an impasse. One hopes Antoine will finally elect to just suck it up and go out there and do the job he’s being paid to do – he still has a year left on his deal – knowing the team has a chance to be pretty good this year, and needs him on-board if they are to realize that potential.