Despite his retirement intentions, Antoine Winfield has yet to make it official. Seeing as he’s still available, the Minnesota Vikings need to make a move and re-sign the veteran cornerback before it’s too late.
Winfield, one of the NFL’s best cornerbacks against the run, was a cap casualty this offseason after nine years with the Vikings. He then signed with the Seattle Seahawks, but failed to beat out their young cornerbacks for a roster spot. Now back on the open market, Winfield could be persuaded to wait on retirement.
Following their season-opening loss to the Detroit Lions, the Vikings clearly need to make upgrades to the defensive backfield. Starting cornerbacks Chris Cook and Xavier Rhodes struggled to slow down Detroit and their high-flying passing attack, allowing Matt Stafford and Co. to rack up 357 yards through the air.
If the Vikings were to bring Winfield aboard, they’d be adding a proven playmaker to the secondary. The 14-year NFL veteran played well in coverage in 2012 and finished last season as Pro Football Focus’ top rated cornerback against the run. He may have lost a step of two since first joining the Vikings back in 2004, but he’s the type of difference-maker the Vikings are desperate for as the 2013 campaign rolls along.
Above all, Winfield would bring his quiet leadership back to the Vikings locker room. During his time in Minnesota, Winfield was the heart and soul of the defense and rallied his teammates through thick and thin. His re-signing would return a much-needed veteran presence.
There’s still the question of whether or not Winfield is even interested in making a return to the Vikings, or how much they’d have to pay to sign him. At this moment, Minnesota has just over $5 million in cap space to work with. They would likely have to offer most of that to him in order to keep him away from retirement.
If he’s open to the idea, the Vikings need to go out and convince Winfield to re-sign. He’s still capable of making a significant impact, and the Minnesota secondary needs all the help it can get.
Pull the trigger, Mr. Spielman.