What Up, Player?

The Vikings have made a bigger free agent splash in the last 24 hours than they have in 12 years of free agency in the NFL.

Prior to jumping up the signing price of Antoine Winfield, the Vikings were known around free agency circles as a bait fish -- a team an agent uses to spark interest from other teams and drive a player's asking price up.

The Vikings proved yesterday that they are no longer bait fish. Just two days after giving Jim Kleinsasser a huge contract, the Vikings backed up the truck and dropped a $35 million contract (including almost $11 million of that up front) on Antoine Winfield -- filling a void that was an obvious need heading into free agency.

Head coach Mike Tice made it clear that Winfield was the top player priority on their wish list and the story of how he was able to pry Winfield away from a contract signing with the Jets will be the making of folklore -- just like how the Lions insistance on signing QB Scott Mitchell kept him away from the Vikings.

While early word that Denard Walker's agent is flapping his gums about the signing, the message should be clear -- see you in Mankato, boys. Win your job then.

* In seven years as a starter -- two with Ohio State and five with the Bills -- Winfield has a total of just seven interceptions.
* Fred Robbins signed a six-year, $20 million deal with the Giants, where he is expected to be a starter.
* Former Viking Dwayne Rudd was among the Bucs cap casualties this week.
* Former Vikings assistant coach Trent Walters was hired by the Eagles as their new secondary coach.

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