Sunday Notebook: Winfield an eventual safety?

Some have speculated that Antoine Winfield could make a move to safety in the future. He addressed that line of thinking, along with some of the factors that played into his decision on the contract extension. Plus, we look at speculation of Michael Vick as a Viking with past comments from Brad Childress, and how the current quarterbacks stack up after a surprising statement on Sirius NFL Radio.

Some in the local media have looked at Antoine Winfield's age and his desire for a long-term extension, which he received on Thursday, and speculated that a move to safety might be in the offing. Not likely in the next two or three years with a cornerback that is just coming off his first Pro Bowl season.

Winfield's contract has some "likely to be earned" incentives, but they aren't for interceptions, he said. Instead, the final two years – 2012 and 2013 – of his new contract could decelerate in pay if he isn't the starting cornerback. That could be a time to consider a move to safety, something Winfield said he wouldn't oppose.

"Not at all. I haven't played the position since high school so it would take getting used to, but I think I'd be able to do it," he said.

"If it came down to it or that was my best fit, if I needed to be moved to safety I could play that, but right now I'm a starting cornerback for the Minnesota Vikings," he said.

No doubt about that. His big-play ability in defending the pass, the run, blitzing the quarterback, causing turnovers and capitalizing on turnovers and blocked kicks makes a valuable player in many facets of the game. Taking him away from where he is most effective now – at cornerback – wouldn't make any sense. A few years down the road, who knows?

For now, 2008 free-agent acquisition Madieu Wililams and 2008 second-round draft pick Tyrell Johnson will be the starting safeties. The Vikings spent considerable money and draft currency to obtain them. They also stepped up to give fellow cornerback Cedric Griffin a five-year extension, keeping last year's starting cornerbacks together for the foreseeable future.

Winfield said he was never concerned that an extension for Griffin last year could leave him without his own long-term deal.

"Not at all. I was excited for him," Winfield said. "Great player, great friend, great teammate. We enjoy being around him. With this contract extension I'll be with him for a few more years."

Interestingly, Griffin and Winfield were the most-used players returning to the 2008 defense. According to a league source, Winfield played in just under 97 percent of the defensive plays, safety Darren Sharper just over 97 percent and Griffin played in almost 99 percent of the defensive snaps.

The corners appear to be secure for years to come.

FINANCIAL FACTORS

Winfield said his family situation played a big role in keeping him in Minnesota. He is married and his three children are established in the school system.

"It played a great part in all of this. My kids are 11, 8 and 5. In the last five years, they've made a lot of friends and they're comfortable in the school system," he said. "It would have been a tough move to have to uproot them and have to go to a different city and start everything all over again."

Two factors could have stood in the way of getting a deal done, but ultimately they didn't. One was the lack of a long-term collective bargaining agreement. If an extension to the CBA isn't finalized before the start of free agency in 2010, next season will be an uncapped year, but there will also be no minimum that teams are required to spend on player salaries.

"I don't think that played a factor at all because we don't how that's going to turn out," Winfield said.

Secondly, at least one media outlet has speculated that the potential Brett Favre signing could keep Winfield from getting an extension. Favre reportedly has agreed to a $10 million contract and, combined with Winfield's extension and the rookie salaries, the Vikings could be pushing up against the salary cap, depending on how much Winfield's extension will add to this year's cap. Winfield was scheduled to count $6.1 million against the 2009 cap before the extension. The Vikings were $18 million under the cap before the Winfield signing, according to Scout.com's Adam Caplan.

Winfield didn't believe the potentially impending Favre deal played a factor either.

VICK A VIKING?

The SportingNews.com ran an opinion piece from Mike Florio saying the Vikings should have an interest in Michael Vick since Brett Favre is taking so long to make up his mind on a potential NFL comeback with the Vikings.

The Vikings were also listed along with the San Francisco 49ers as two teams that were believed to have an interest in Vick in an Associated Press report from the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis in February. However, here is what Childress really said about the situation:

"I really don't get into hypotheticals because I just think there is too much water that's got to happen. I'd cross that bridge when we come to it," he said back then.

In another side session with reporters after the Combine, all indications were that he had no interest in pursuing Vick.

BOOTY AT TWO?

In other quarterback comments, former NFL quarterback Jim Miller, now with Sirius NFL Radio, said "sources" believe second-year pro John David Booty is ahead of Sage Rosenfels and Tarvaris Jackson will be the starter if Favre doesn't sign.

"If Brett decides to retire … then you have the three guys going forward," Miller said on Sirius. "Tarvaris will be the starter. If he falters, Sage would probably then be put in and then probably John David Booty. But, I think if Favre is on the team, I think they'd like to keep four but one of them might be shuffled. Can they trade Sage? There's sources that say John David Booty is beating him out. They're not trading Tarvaris Jackson."

From all indications from the offseason practices open to the media, Jackson and Rosenfels were in a tight battle for the starting spot, splitting snaps with the first-team offense, while Booty clearly remained at No. 3.

As for trading one of the three, Rosenfels has three years remaining on the contract he signed after being traded to the Vikings. He has cap figures ranging from $2.47 million this year to $3.47 million in 2011. Jackson has only this year left on his contract, with a $740,000 cap number. Like Rosenfels, Booty is signed through 2011, but Booty's highest cap number is only $606,500.


Viking Update Top Stories