Antoine Winfield was cut by the Vikings so they wouldn’t have to pay him. Reportedly the release was handled poorly by the team and Winfield was left with some hurt feelings. The Vikings insisted they wanted to bring Winfield back on a smaller deal but Winfield gave indications that he was upset with the team and intended looking elsewhere for employment.
That was last week. Here we are now in the second week of free agency and Winfield has yet to sign with a new team. In fact there is a growing feeling that at 36 he won’t be able to find a suitor. That may leave him with a bitter choice to make: swallow his pride and return to Minnesota or retire.
What would Leslie Frazier do if it were up to him? He’d have Winfield come back. Frazier said at the Phoenix owners meetings:
I’m hoping that we can figure out a way to get him back here. So, I’m hoping that it’s not goodbye yet.
In a weird way Frazier probably feels for Winfield. Frazier himself was recently somewhat dissed by the Vikings when they refused to give him a contract extension beyond the one year option they picked up. Frazier has himself been stung by the front office so in a way he’s probably more in Winfield’s corner than he is the team’s.
As a matter of fact, there are a bunch of Vikings who have expressed irritation with the front office this offseason. Winfield isn’t the only player who feels stung. Kevin Williams, Adrian Peterson and Chris Kluwe all expressed anger over the Percy Harvin trade. Leslie Frazier reportedly had to call Peterson and calm him down after AD’s angry tweets about the subject. I can’t imagine those veteran guys were too happy about the reports of Winfield being dissed either.
I wouldn’t say we’re in danger of an outright revot here but you can’t say the relationship is great between Rick Spielman and his roster right now. And the coach isn’t really in his corner either. Are we on schism-watch once again or will this all blow over? It’s a long time till training camp. But sometimes guys can hold on to things.
Winfield may have no choice if he wants to continue his career. He may have to put the ill-will aside and come back to Minnesota. If he does come back you can be sure he’ll be playing with a major chip on his shoulder.