Winfield negotiations remain publicly civil
Antoine Winfield (Paul Sancya/AP)
Antoine Winfield (Paul Sancya/AP)

Posted Jun 13, 2009

The only veteran to not attend the Vikings’ mandatory minicamp was CB Antoine Winfield, who is in the final year of his contract. Still, at least things haven’t turned publicly contentious yet.

Antoine Winfield continued to stay away from the Vikings Organized Team Activities after negotiations on a long-term contract extension broke down last month.

The veteran cornerback, coming off the first Pro Bowl appearance of his 10-year career, missed the team’s mandatory minicamp because, according to coach Brad Childress, he was attending the funeral for the mother of a close friend.

But when Winfield continued to be absent for the voluntary OTAs when most veterans were present it became clear this was a contract situation. Winfield is entering the final season of a six-year, $34.8 million deal he signed as a free agent in 2004.

Coach Brad Childress indicated that while talks with Winfield might not be ongoing at this point that doesn’t mean they won’t resume.

“I just think that (the word) negotiations (are) just what that means,” Childress said. “It’s ups and downs and flat and people walking away, people getting back together. Nothing says that it’s 24 hours a day like it is in Congress when the government shuts down or the state shuts down. It’s negotiations.”

While discussions between the team and Winfield’s agent, Ashanti Webb, have stalled, things have not turned contentious — at least publicly.

Winfield, who will turn 32 on June 24, is expected to be on hand when the Vikings open training camp practices on July 31, even if he doesn’t have a new deal. He recently took a mandatory team physical, giving Childress an opportunity to talk to him.

Winfield is coming off a season in which he tied for the team lead with two interceptions and finished third with 96 tackles. He also broke up a team-leading 14 passes and had two sacks and nine tackles for a loss.

He recently issued a statement in which he said his desire is to be at Winter Park — obviously Winfield wants negotiations to resume first --
and finish his career with the Vikings.

While it’s clear Childress knows exactly where things stand in this situation, he hasn’t been and won’t be involved in the actual talks.

“It’s a free flow of information (internally),” Childress said. “Personnel, the team, coaching, salary cap, owners and it goes all different directions. Around the circle, back and forth, we are completely transparent. Everybody knows what everybody else is doing so that’s not my expertise, negotiating. I have to go out of my way to tell the players, ‘Far be it from me, I’m never going to sit and talk about dollars and cents.’ Typically it’s a degrading deal when a coach is talking about putting a dollar figure on you.”

There is some thought that the Vikings could be waiting to see what it would take to sign Brett Favre before they get too deep into dollars – at least on this year’s cap – with a potential Winfield extension.

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