Vikes Work Cap Room With Winfield Deal

When the Vikings signed Antoine Williams last week, they opted to use their $33 million in available cap money to front-load the contract for the future good of the team.

Many jaws dropped last week when Peyton Manning signed a seven-year, $99 million contract with the Colts. The main reason was the incredibly high cap numbers Manning will carry after the next two seasons -- prompting many to believe the contract will have to be re-worked as early as 2006.

The Vikings will have no such problem with newly signed CB Antoine Winfield. What was originally reported as a $10.8 million signing bonus to his $35 million contract was actually a roster bonus. The difference? A signing bonus is spread across all of the years of the contract for a player's cap number. In Winfield's case, it would have meant $1.8 million in addition to his base salary for the six years of the deal. Instead, by making it a roster bonus, Winfield will count $12.5 million against the 2004 salary cap and the remaining $23 million will be used to determine his cap number for the final five years.

By doing so, the Vikings reduced their available cap space for 2004 by about $9 million -- bringing their available total down to about $19-20 million -- but the team won't take big hits in the final years of the contract, meaning Winfield has a very good chance of playing out all of his contract with the Vikings and being a cornerstone of the defense until 2010 barring injury.

THURSDAY NOTES
* In a follow-up to yesterday's story, the Vikings confirmed VU's sentiment that disgruntled CB Denard Walker won't be cut (at least not yet). Coach Mike Tice stated Wednesday that the team has no intention of cutting Walker and sees the signing of Winfield as adding to depth at a position that was devoid of any depth just two years ago. Walker's agent had stated that Walker couldn't get a fair shake with the Vikings because Tice is enamoured with Brian Williams, and both Winfield and Ken Irvin played for new defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell. While a $3.2 million cap number is high four a dime back in the secondary, it wouldn't be a high price for a team looking to make Walker a starter. The Vikings are open to any pre-draft trade opportunities, but, at this time, have no intention of granting Walker's request to be released.
* In other former Vikings CB news, DeWayne Washington, released earlier this week by the Steelers, signed a contract with the Jaguars and former Viking/current Jags head coach Jack Del Rio.

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