A few thoughts on the Antoine Winfield contract

Vikings CB Antoine Winfield received a 4 year extension on his contract. (Paul Sancya / Associated Press)

Vikings CB Antoine Winfield received a contract extension that runs through 2013. (Paul Sancya / Associated Press)

Antoine Winfield is a 32-year-old cornerback, and certainly one of the best in the game, as evidenced by the payday he received from the Minnesota Vikings today.

Winfield had one year left on his existing contract, and the sides reworked 2009 and added four more years to the deal. It’s rare for a corner of that age to land such a deal, but I understand why the Vikings would do it, and both sides made some compromises.

Often, in contracts for older players (sometimes considered “third contracts,” as in the third NFL contract a player has signed), things get touchy in a year or two if the production slips or the players fall into more of a secondary role. This deal has some buffers for that built in, according to Winfield’s agent, Ashanti Webb, in that after the third year of the deal, the salaries will either escalate if Winfield is still starting or decrease if he is a nickel or dime back.

In return for that, at least to some degree, Winfield gets more security beyond just the 2009 season left on his deal and avoids having to sit there in 2010 wondering about the CBA talks, whether the year will be uncapped and whether or not those 2005 and 2006 draft picks are going to unrestricted free agents or restricted free agents (the size and quality of that free-agent class always plays a role in the kind of money that’s thrown around).

Seems like a win-win. Winfield receives $16.1 million guaranteed, according to Webb. That’s the key figure, especially with players of older age. Winfield could earn another $1.5 million in easily attainable bonuses, should he stay healthy.

So the Vikings have their business done and all their ducks lined up … oh yeah, except for that whole quarterback saga. I’m not sure when I will ever believe Brett Favre is retired at this point. He could sit out a year, and I’d still be thinking this time a year from now that he was pondering a return — again.

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