Yes, I am sure that most of you have heard the term used for the last guy picked in the draft. However, that is not who I am writing about today. Who is the topic of this post? Antoine Winfield.
I started to read DN in search of some insightful commentary about football, Viking football to be exact. Every time I read a comment from someone bemoaning the loss of Winfield , I question what there is for me to learn here.
Let's lay out the facts
- Winfield is old, at least for a corner back. He is 36, and has a lot of mileage on him. He was a big hitter in a small body. That doesn't really scream longevity. The fact that he lasted as long as he did is a testament to him, but football, like life, is about the present and the future, not the past.
- Winfield's quality of play was in substantial decline. At one time, he was a near shut down corner. In recent years, he became a tackling machine. In large part, that was due to the fact that he couldn't shut down much of anyone anymore.
- A cornerback's physical ability peaks somewhere near 25. Improvement after that is all technique and game/scheme knowledge. After plateauing at 25, physical abilities will decline, slowly at first, and then at an increasingly rapid pace. A cornerback's NFL career turns into a race of increasing technique and game/scheme knowledge vs declining physical ability. When declining physical ability kicks into high gear, the outcome of that race is certain.
- As your physical abilities decline, a player becomes more injury prone. His body goes into the process of "breaking down". Winfield missed games with a neck injury and broken collar bone in 2011. The broken collar bone landed him on IR. In 2012, Winfield broke his hand in week 16, and was not particularly effective after that, including the playoff loss to Green Bay.
- Winfield's 2013 contract called for him to be paid $7.25 million, which far exceeded his value as a player, or be cut. He rolled the dice and refused to renegotiate, and got cut.
- Winfield shopped himself around the league, and got an offer of $3 million from the Seahawks, with $1 million guaranteed. The Vikings countered with a similar contract with more guaranteed money, and Winfield chose Seattle over the Vikings. It was his right to go where he wanted, but it clearly showed that Winfield didn't exactly bleed purple.
- Seattle bounced his ass on to the pavement. They decided to pay him $1 million not to play for Seattle, rather than $3 million to play for Seattle. Upon closer inspection, he was not who they thought he was.
- Winfield went into a snit and "retired". His agent never filed the paperwork because he knew that it was nothing more than a snit.
- Winfield "unretired" and declared himself available. As of this moment, 32 NFL GMs have done their due diligence, and decided to pass.
I don't know Winfield personally. To me, he is just a football player. Rather, he used to be a football player. What I see now is a guy who would likely flail at opposing receivers, who he could neither defend against or even tackle most of the time.. That is, or course, if he was healthy enough to take the field. In short, he is a bad cornerback. Check that, a bad old cornerback, who is only going to get worse. One who is kind of a head case who expects to be overpaid, and then pouts when he starts to receive reality checks about what kind of player he is now, rather than the kind of player he used to be.
If this is the kind of guy who you look up to as the would be salvation of the 2013 Vikings, I am certainly glad that you are not the GM of the Minnesota Vikings, because I expect a lot better for my team.