Winfield hopeful new deal is in works

Antoine Winfield is looking forward to a new deal. His original five-year contract with Buffalo expires after 2003 and he hopes to sign an extension with the team before training camp opens for veterans on July 26.

Winfield, who'll be 26 on June 24, has been one of the best tackling and covering cornerbacks Buffalo has ever had. He led the team in tackles with 106 in 2001 and he has 46 career pass breakups. However, he has just five interceptions in four seasons with Buffalo, with none last year. Comparably, Nate Clements has nine interceptions through two seasons.

Though it's believed the Bills want to re-sign him, they don't appear to be in a rush to give him a new deal. Winfield said there have been no new talks with the team, which he obviously finds a bit disappointing, judging from the tone of his voice.

"Well, I mean, I understand this is a business," he said, "but … ah … I know I got one more year on my contract. If it's going to happen, it'll happen. If it don't, I'll just play it out and we'll see."

The Bills recently signed rookie draft picks Lauvale Sape and Sam Aiken. It's likely management is focusing on signing the rookies and adding peripheral free agents before it turns its attention to a veteran player already under contract.

Winfield said he is not sure whether that's president and general manager Tom Donahoe's strategy at the moment. He added that salary cap constraints might possibly be slowing down the process. The Bills, however, are among the top 10 NFL teams in salary cap space at an estimated $6 million under.

"Well, if it's like that, we might get something done yet," said Winfield, who still maintains that if he doesn't sign an extension by the start of training camp, he'll play the season and won't revisit the issue until it's over.

As for personal goals this year, he said he wants to make the Pro Bowl, record at least six interceptions, not give up any touchdowns and just make the defense better.

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