Nov 25, 2012; Chicago, IL, USA; Minnesota Vikings cornerback Antoine Winfield (26) reacts to being called for a penalty against the Chicago Bears during the second quarter at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

Vikings Fumbled Antoine Winfield Release, Look Like Classless Stooges

The Vikings are coming under fire from reporters who believe they badly mishandled Antoine Winfield’s release on Tuesday and made themselves look like classless buffoons. As you know, Winfield was cut for salary cap reasons just as free agency was about to kick off. It wasn’t an entirely unexpected move given Winfield’s age and cap number. It was somewhat surprising to learn that the Vikings undertook the move without first offering Winfield the chance to renegotiate his contract.

Things got more complicated as details emerged about the way the release was handled. Reportedly, Winfield was at the Winter Park facility working out when he was called into Rick Spielman’s office. What ensued is being described as “short, awkward conversation.” Winfield was told he was no longer a member of the Vikings. And that was that. No invitation to re-do the contract. He was simply called upstairs and told he was no longer on the team. A nine-year run in Minnesota ends with a sudden, apparently very uncomfortable and arguably classless severing of ties.

In his press conference Tuesday, Spielman did indicate that the team would reach out to Winfield and try to get him back at a reasonable rate. The GM called the decision to cut Winfield “extremely extremely difficult.” Obviously it was tough for Winfield too or he wouldn’t have made sure to get word out there about his poor treatment.

If it’s true the Vikings did treat Winfield as shabbily as is being portrayed, that doesn’t reflect very well on Spielman’s leadership. The Vikings run a tight ship but in this case the veil was peeled back a little and you see that maybe Rick isn’t quite as good at handling these tough situations as he should be. Spielman may be smooth when delivering his canned press conference nonsense but evidently he is not quite so slick when it comes to face-to-face meetings with players. If things went down as they are being described, Winfield has good reason to be miffed.

As for Winfield’s immediate future, it appears the door has been slammed on a return to the Vikings. Indications are that Winfield will look elsewhere for employment as he tries to extend his career. Washington, Seattle, Green Bay and New England are already being brought up as potential destinations. As we saw last year, Winfield still has plenty to offer as a defensive back. He’s still physical, still a terrific tackler, still incredibly savvy and still a leader. Wouldn’t surprise me to see him get picked up by a contender. He commands tremendous respect around the league. Rick Spielman maybe not so much after this apparent fiasco.

Be a shame to see the Vikings miss out on a top free agent now, just because of one ill-handled move.

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Tags: Minnesota Vikings

  • Charles Stocks

    Dropped the ball there MR. Spielman. I hope you have a plan to replace him with a quality veteran CB. Ridiculous to get ride of players at posistions of need with a contingency plan

  • Jarred

    I’m hating the inking age more and more. From what I read other sources say they asked him to take a pay cut because of a reduced play count the Vikings wanted him to move inside. 7.25 is money being used for number one corners. And btw the dolphins cut karlos dansby by text, at least we talked to him in person. I don’t know where thevikingage got their sources that we didnt ask him to redo, then every other source I have seen or heard states the other. I guess you guys are like most writers lets write with feelings and make stuff up to catch the reader. Not the first time you all have been accused of this

  • Daniel

    Want to know how you can tell thevikingage is gettif terrible, on here by Adam is an article about how the Vikings haven’t done anything in free agency and we are going to suck and ranting. We didnt do anything big last season and made it. And btw the Vikings since 2005 have spent more money on players then all teams but one, not cap but cash that’s how hard we have hit free agency and that hasn’t brought us sustain winning or a superbowl.
    So what’s the point in spending like the bucs, bills, of last year they didnt make the playoffs and spent a ton like we is to

  • burbankTJ

    There were articles out yesterday that stated Antoine had refused to take a salary cut. That makes much more sense than this version of the story.

  • tomboy

    Vikings Age is a terrible source to get your Vikings news. If you only readthe vikings age the Vikes do nothing right and are a terrible team with terrible owners. Wish this guy would write for some other team. Embarrassing..

  • Mandie Kranig

    I agree with all of you on the quality of reporting the Viking Age lacks. It is so sad we have such crappy bloggers for our fanpage. How do we go about getting these closet packer homers fired?

  • Vikings_Mt Rushmore

    Winfield isn’t worth the $7.5 mil a year. His tackling last year wasn’t near what it was in the past and his cover skills have diminished as well. Sometimes it had to trim the fat from the team. You can’t pay everyone big money contracts.

  • radar2

    watch-spielman gets Winfield when no one else pays up for him–maybe not so dumb.

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