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 Look Like Mickey Mouse Operation After Questionable Moves


Are the Vikings a Mickey Mouse operation? You have to wonder what other executives around the league think after a couple of the team’s moves last week. I’m not talking about the big moves. Trading Percy Harvin was a no-brainer after Seattle offered all those picks. Sorry Percy fans but he was never worth the money and he arguably wasn’t worth the headache. The Greg Jennings signing also was a no-brainer. Had to get a legit receiver in there. You’ll never know for sure what Christian Ponder has until you give him competent people to target.

Those big moves aren’t the issue. The issue is a couple of the smaller moves. One isn’t even a move, it’s just the way a situation was handled. The Antoine Winfield situation. Dan Wiederer reported on it last week. Winfield was cut in what is being described as a “short, awkward” conversation with Rick Spielman. Whatever happened in that brief convo, Winfield surely came out of it with his feelings hurt and less inclination to return to the Vikings. And this after the Vikings failed to even offer him a chance to re-do his contract. Very puzzling and arguably classless behavior from Spielman. Treating a guy like that after nine years?

Now maybe that situation didn’t go down quite the way Wiederer’s story protrays. But so far the Vikings have been silent on the matter. They have yet to offer their side of the story and my guess is they will never offer any real clarification. Spielman’s PR people will figure out the right spin and Spielman will go out and say the words and that will be that. Frankly they are probably just hoping that everyone forgets about it. Fans may forget but I don’t think players will. I think it creates a potential image problem for them among players.

Yes you need to be cold-blooded and unsentimental in how you assess your talent. That’s how organizations like Pittsburgh and New England do it and that’s part of how those teams got to be where they are. But you have to show a little humanity in how you deal with the actual people. Or at least a basic level of decency. Spielman’s cold behavior toward Winfield reeks of Brad Childress to me. It reminds me of Chilly cutting Marcus Robinson on Christmas Eve then denigrating his talents in public. Or Chilly punishing Troy Williamson for being late getting back to the team after his grandma’s funeral. You want to run a tight ship but you don’t want to be a tyrannical dickhead. I know Spielman was having a busy day but why couldn’t he take a few minutes out of it to send Winfield off the proper way? It just seems like he doesn’t get it.

Of course I’m only a fan and my opinion on this doesn’t matter. But you know whose opinion does matter? Players. This Winfield story may make guys look twice at the Vikings. Obviously it didn’t scare away Greg Jennings but by the looks of it Jennings didn’t have a lot of options. Let’s say you have a free agent with several teams bidding for him. Maybe the money’s even. Now that guy is going to look for reasons to choose one place or the other and it’s not about money. So he looks at the Vikings and thinks, “Oh they treated Antoine Winfield like crap. Do I want to go there?”

Maybe I’m overreacting. Like I said, it’s possible the Wiederer version of the story is leaving out something vital. Maybe the Vikes will come out with less stink on them when all is known. Maybe it will all turn out to have been a misunderstanding. Maybe Winfield will even come back on a manageable contract. Who knows? There’s a fair amount yet to be cleared up on this story. But there’s another story that I think is more clear-cut and in its own way even more puzzling. This one I don’t think needs a lot of analysis. It’s just flat out a WTF? moment.

It sort of flew under the radar with everything going on last week but a few people noticed it and they were very puzzled. Jerome Simpson as you know was brought back on a one-year contract. That’s not a big deal. The Vikes need receivers and Simpson at least presumably knows the offense and for some reason the coaches just seem to like the guy. The problem isn’t that they brought him back, it’s that for some reason they saw fit to give him a raise. Even though as far as we know there was no market for him whatsoever.

So this is what you have. An organization that preaches fiscal responsibility above all else. That claims to be all about spending money prudently and wisely. That just traded away its best receiver largely because they didn’t want to end up overpaying for him when they finally had to address his contract. And what do they do? They give a guy more money to come back when they absolutely did not have to give him a cent more than what they paid him last year. Jerome Simpson, trust me on this, had no other offers from any team and was going to receive no other offers. He would have been on the street come training camp. The Vikings are literally the only team that sees value in this guy. And they gave him more money why? Just to show their appreciation? Cause he was such a huge factor for them last year? He made so many big plays and was just all-around a terrific guy?

It absolutely makes no sense to give Simpson more money. And the silliness of this move was noted by multiple in-the-know-type people. Tom Pelissero tweeted about it. He couldn’t understand it and neither can I. When you have a player in that position, totally at your mercy, you give him the dead minimum. Did his agent bluff Spielman with some crap about another offer? Was Spielman just feeling in a charitable mood?

For my money, this team looks a little bit Mickey Mouse right now. Spielman looks a little bit in over his head. He doesn’t know how to handle a clear-cut veteran release without turning it into a PR pickle. He gives guys money just for the hell of it after two years of preaching frugality. Go back to last year and you have the John Carlson signing which made no sense for the money. That looked like a case of Spielman reacting to a market that did not exist. And so does the Simpson raise. Does this guy see ghosts too?

Maybe it doesn’t even matter that much in the grand scheme. Maybe only people like me who pay way too much attention even give a crap about this. Fans will ultimately judge Spielman based on wins and losses. If Greg Jennings has a big year people will say Spielman did a great job. They’ll overlook other smaller things that call him into question. But I think evidence is mounting that this guy isn’t all he’s cracked up to be. I’m still annoyed by the Joe Webb thing last year. And Carlson and now Winfield and Simpson. It adds up after awhile. The Vikes just look like a low-rent operation at times. And it starts with the talking haircut at the top.

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Tags: Minnesota Vikings

  • Jake

    I think you’re over reacting to both of these incidents. Yes it wasn’t cool to handle Winfield that way, in fact they never should have cut him, it shouldn’t have been an option. But we don’t know all the details surrounding it so you’re jumping to conclusions. Second, they must have a reason for increasing Simpson’s pay. Maybe they plan on featuring him at #2 this year. Do you even know how much more money they gave him? I’m sure they didn’t give him several more millions this year than last year; we’re probably talking about a few hundred grand. Neither of these moves makes them look Mickey Mouse, you’re definitely over reacting. The Winfield thing is awful, but until we know exactly how it went down you can’t be entirely upset with the team. As far as Simpson making more money, unless they gave him an extra million or more, there’s nothing to really gripe about.

  • Scott

    Mickey Mouse? That’s a reach, he was due 7M and it was either sign him or Jennings. What would you have done? No one else is jumping at the chance for a 36 year old corner. Hey, I love Antoine and hope he comes back for the right price.

  • Brant Van Dyke

    Your article contradicts itself. You praise the major moves for Percy Harvin and Greg Jennings, but make a gigantic deal out of the little stuff? Cmon man. Plus, they sound like they are intending to sign Winfield back. Also, do your homework on the Jerome Simpson signing. His total contract was 2 mil last year, and his contract this year? 2.1 mil. Apparently 100k is enough of a raise to write a lengthy article about. So essentially your article comes down to a 100k raise and a player that will probably get signed back.

  • tommy

    LOL your the worst bro!

    • Petey Rose

      Next article please include a picture of yourself so I know what the fool behind this looks like

  • Nabicus

    … Sherlock Holmes himself couldn’t clue you in…..

  • http://twitter.com/rovibe71 Rob

    The Vikings said they spoke with Antoine Winfield’s agent in the weeks prior to his release, and that Winfield and his agent had no interest in talking to the team about re-doing his contract. If that’s the case, then his release shouldn’t have come as a surprise.

  • Rookie

    subscribe to this? are they on crack?

  • Purple4Ever

    I’m starting to think this blog is run by a Packer fan.

    • http://twitter.com/mrsamk Mandie Kranig

      I’ve been saying that for weeks!

  • King

    What’s more insulting….cutting Antoine and letting him hit the market early, allowing for him try and get a good deal or ask him to take a 3M cut in pay based on playing time. The latter is classless….if you won’t honor the contract, cut him loose as quickly as possible and let him get the best deal he can get. It’s brutal business, but doing it the way the Vikes did at least gave Antoine the best shot at trying to get a deal he wanted. Cutting guys week (s) after the free agency period opens and the market’s falling is crap….
    ps…Ziggy’s proven he’ll spend to get a winner…in the end that and coaching will keep good players coming.

  • ForeverFADED

    5mins I can’t get back…about 3 paragraphs to long and the evidence provided hardly goes as far as Mickey Mouse…Now fix it and repost it!!!.. ;) lmaoo

  • http://twitter.com/mrsamk Mandie Kranig

    This is seriously one of the WORST viking blogs ever.

  • Jake

    Questionable “journalism” that goes against all public opinion makes Vikings blog writer look like Mickey Mouse hack.

  • http://twitter.com/ManitobaViking Brian Amble

    The headline is a troll move and the article does little to nothing to prove the authors point. If this is an attempt at “critical insight” journalism..its a fail.

  • Billuy

    No the Vikings are one of the best run teams in the NFL. Team unity wins Championships and 3 draft picks for a guy who isn’t a team player in Harvin. You are way off when you talk about this!!!

  • The Truth

    If you are wondering why this seems like a packer fan writing these articles, it’s because Dan Zinski used to write a blog for Wisc. Badgers (google it). Odds are high he is a packer fan.

    Winfield’s agent said they would NOT be willing to take a pay cut during the combine. Winfield is 36 and making 7 million dollars. He played well last year but he was held out of practice to save his body. It is not that difficult to figure out why they cut him.

    Ted Thompson is quick with the axe when they turn 30 and don’t forget the whole Brett Favre fiasco. He was just itching to push Favre out the door. So, go write a Packer blog where you can pump up you fellow packers on how prudent Ted Thompson is while the SF, Seahawks, and Atlanta improve and GB struggles to hold together their core players. This blog and Ted Thompson management is Mickey Mouse.

  • The Truth

    The writers is formerly a rabid Wisconsin badger fan and therefore probably a Packer fan. If you don’t believe me, google his name (Dan Zinski) and you will see his Wisconsin Badger blog that he left. Can’t we get an actual Viking Fan or at least someone who is neutral to write this?

    This was a poorly thought out article sort of Mickey Mouse one might say. The facts are Winfield is 36 years old, he was making 7 million, he was playing against the nickel, and he was practicing in a very limited fashion to help him survive the season. Furthermore, Rick S. talked to his agent during the combine and was told they would accept no reduction in pay. The solution was pretty obvious. Of course if Ted Thompson does the same move, this IMPARTIAL writer would be praising him.

  • Huskerendeburr

    How can you respond to a article like that and be serious.

  • http://www.facebook.com/daniel.laxen Daniel Laxen

    It was mentioned that Winfield could well have been offered more money on the free agent market.Spielman felt he owed Antoine that opportunity..Stranger things have happened. Perhaps the offer would have offeneded Antoine more than the release? Either way the Vikings had to get a quality WR and the $7 million cap hit wasn’t what the Vikings had in mind…When the Packers treat superstars and fan favorites like crap it’s a savvy business move…When the Vikings do it, it’s Mickey fircking Mouse? Come on Winfield was my favorite Viking for years…I hope he comes back…What you portray is BS…You don’t like what this front office is doing and that’s tough shit! The Vikings made the playoffs last year with a highschool offense and an ingrate slot receiver that wanted to dictate the game plan…As for Simpson, he was injured in camp and it lingered throughout the season…The front office deems he’s worthy so deal with that, too…He was brought in to streatch the field and Spielman thinks he can do that if healthy…The Vikings aren’t the Packers, Patriots, or the Steelers. When you finaly realize that you’ll be much better off!

  • The Facts

    Dan Zinski looks like a Mickey Mouse Writer. What do we know about him. Well he used to write a blog for the Wisconsin Badgers (he’s a big fan) and he grew up in Wisconsin. Sounds to me like we have a Packer fan pretending to be a Vikings fan so he can spew this garbage.

    What are the Facts:
    A., Winfield is 35 and Making 7 million dollars to cover the SLOT.
    B. Winfield is not worth 7 million to cover the slot
    C. The Vikings stated that he was going to have a reduced roll in percent of plays.
    d. Winfield practiced in a limited fashion to help him complete the season.
    What was reported:
    A. According to Tom P., Winfield and his agent were approached to take a pay cut. They said no way.
    B. Wiederer reported that Winfield was abruptly dismissed w/o a proper fair thee well.
    If you consider that they approached Winfield and his agent and were told they weren’t going to take a cut, I’m not sure what more Rick could do. I guess he could have thrown a party for winfield with hats and all and maybe a cake. I guess he should have done that while making key decision as the FA market opened. Yeah, that heartless bastard was too busy doing his job and not kissing the ring of Winfield.

    I like Winfield and he is one of my favorite players. But his refusal to take a cut is the issue. We have paid him well first with a 6 year 36 million dollar contract and later he signed another generous contract. You’d think he might be more flexible to the Vikings after getting paid so well. After +50 million dollars, I think he could have taken a market based pay considering his age.

  • Mike Bridges

    If Winfield was retiring he would have got the watch and cake but, he was asked to take a cut or be cut. He probably, and wrongly guessed, the team would never cut him. In NFL terms, he’s an old man and he should have known that the team is going younger. He should have felt great about getting any offer to stay on the team, knowing that very soon they would be at least, drafting a younger guy to replace him. Seattle is getting a guy that’s on the down side of a great career. Minnesota tried to keep him…twice. He was offered a contract, at a reduced rate, but he turned it down and Minnesota offered him their hand again but, he swatted it away! The NFL is a business and every team is a business and all because Winfield didn’t get what he wanted, he’s being dissed? He was thanked for his years as a Viking…what more did he want?
    Simpson was reportedly hurt last season and based on that, the team felt he still had some ability and with a healthy body and the addition of a Pro Bowl WR on the other side that could help and push him to be a better player, he would improve. He’s been given 1 more year to prove himself and hopefully he will embrace that chance, and become a star WR! I can see why he got the 1 year extension. A few years ago another kid came to the Vikings who had great talent but, had a bad attitude and his chance with the Vikings was to be his last chance. He got himself turned around and he embraced his last chance and he became a Viking legend and he’s also now finally…a Hall of Famer! There were a lot of Viking fans that hated the addition of Cris Carter but, it didn’t take long for all those know it all fans to embrace him and live him! Maybe, just maybe, Simpson will become a star after taking hold of his last chance!!