Oct 21, 2012; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings defensive back Antoine Winfield (26) against the Arizona Cardinals at the Metrodome. The Vikings defeated the Cardinals 21-14. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
Antoine Winfield left Minnesota for Seattle earlier this offseason, taking a big chunk of the Vikings’ defensive identity with him. Of course we have all read the reports about how things went down between Winfield and the Vikes in the last hours of his career in Minnesota. Suffice it to say, things did not play out the way Winfield or anyone else expected.
How hurt was Winfield by the Vikings’ decision to suddenly cut him without warning just hours before the beginning of free agency? And did Winfield ever consider returning to the Vikes in spite of Rick Spielman’s reported callous treatment of him?
Winfield has talked about the way things went down. Was he hurt? He’s playing it close to the vest on that. He told reporters, “[Getting cut] definitely surprised me. It is a business. I understand that. There really is no loyalty in this game.”
And what about the second question? Was there ever a chance of Winfield returning after the abrupt termination of his contract? Leslie Frazier did reportedly appeal to Winfield on behalf of the organization. I guess because Rick Spielman was too embarrassed to contact Winfield himself?
Winfield is willing to answer that second question point blank. He said, “Once I took my nameplate off that locker, it was a wrap. It was time to go.”
Yeah, it sounds to me like Winfield definitely had his feelings hurt. And I don’t blame him. You don’t treat veteran players that way. Sure it’s a business and sure, in the end, there is no true loyalty. But there’s a right way and a wrong way to sever those ties. The Vikes went about it the wrong way with Winfield.
Despite what some of you may think, this isn’t all just water under the bridge. Players around the league know how things went down with Winfield. Rick Spielman could be developing a reputation as a guy who doesn’t get it. And that may hurt the Vikes in free agent negotiations down the road.
All this stuff matters, whether you want to believe it or not. Just read that second quote from Winfield – “It was time to go” – and tell me he didn’t feel burned. And tell me you think it was okay for the Vikes to do Winfield like that.