Winfield Negotiations Moved Quickly

The Vikings made a statement with their signing of cornerback Antoine Winfield. A team source explains why they were able to close the deal quickly and what he means to the defense.

With the signing of unrestricted free agent cornerback Antoine Winfield and the resigning of tight end Jim Kleinsasser prior to the free agent signing period, the Vikings have come to terms with the top two players they sought.

For a team with defensive issues, getting a shutdown cornerback was a priority, and the Vikings were aggressive in their pursuit of the talented Winfield.

"Through our evaluations, we determined getting a shutdown cornerback would benefit this team greatly. There are other areas of the team we may address, but the one area we had to improve in was at cornerback," a team source said. "Winfield is the type of player that does not need help from a safety or a great pass rush to take and maintain a presence against the better receivers in the game."

Though believed to have agreed to terms with the New York Jets late Thursday, Winfield was on a private jet to meet with the Vikings on Friday. The perception around the league was the Vikings were in contact with Winfield's agent throughout the negotiation process in New York and persuaded the free agent cornerback to visit the Vikings, although he was close to finalizing a deal with the Jets.

"We were aware that Antoine was in negotiations with another team, but we wanted to ensure that they (Winfield's representatives) knew the significant interest we had in him," the team source continued. "He was the number one player we wanted, he was the priority. You can say he was to us as Jevon Kearse was to the Philadelphia Eagles. This was the one player we needed to get."

Coming to terms with Winfield was fairly easy for a Minnesota team that entered the free agent signing period in excess of 30 million dollars under the league mandated 80.5 million dollar salary cap.

"During our internal discussions, we wanted to get a shutdown cornerback, and we really didn't have the luxury to wait on getting Winfield. He was the hottest player at the position," the team source added. "The negotiation process was fairly quick; he had a deal in mind, and it was pretty close to what we were willing to do."

There is no questioning the Vikings' commitment. These two signings should place the entire league on watch, and the Vikings are coming.

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