The Minnesota Vikings Take A Big Hit Loosing Defensive Leader Antoine Winfield

Andy SmithCorrespondent IJune 18, 2009

GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 14:  Antoine Winfield #26 of the Minnesota Vikings kneels on one knee during a break in NFL game action against the Arizona Cardinals at the University of Phoenix Stadium on December 14, 2008 in Glendale, Arizona. The Vikings defeated the Cardinals 35-14. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

   Antoine Winfield is a great competitor on the field, but what makes him so vital to the Minnesota Vikings and their defense is his leadership he brings to the locker room. Considering all of this, it would make sense to keep a player of his level on your team if you want to win.

However, for the Vikings and Winfield this is easier said then done, after all the NFL is a business. But Antoine Winfield is worth all the money Minnesota could give him.

Winfield, going into his 11th year in the NFL and the final year of his contract, has made it public that he wants to retire a Minnesota Viking. So what's the hold up?

Maybe Antoine is asking for too much? Maybe the Vikings are asking for too little? Maybe there trying to find middle ground?

Whatever the reason is, Antoine Winfield has still not gotten a contract extension from the Vikings.

The Vikings organization and Ashanti Webb, Winfield's agent, have not been able to agree on a deal to re-sign the veteran and keep him in Minnesota. Negotiations stalled in mid May, thus Antoine was has been a no show at Vikings' mandatory mini camps and OTA's this off-season.

Coach Brad Childress, the mellow man himself, hasn't made a big deal of his CB skipping out. YET! But Childress has been known to be like a mother hen, wanting all his players to show up to OTA's and mini camps.

So what does this mean for the good ol' coach? Means some one better figure this out, and soon!

The Vikings corner back who turns 32 in six days, is a gem at his position and does not play like a thirty something NFL player. He plays like a young football player in his prime.

In his ten years in the NFL, Antoine Winfield had never been selected to a Pro Bowl, but that soon all changed in 2008 when he was selected for the first time in his career.

Why the change?

It's the tale of the tape.

Winfield played phenominal in 2008, helping a defense in need of skill against the pass. The Minnesota Vikings also used Winfield's talent against the run, helping make the Vikings run defense the best in the league by only allowing 76.9 yards/game to running backs. 

Winfield ended 08' with 95 tackles (81 solo), 2 Sacks (see hits on Carolina Panthers' QB Jake Delohome and New Orleans Saints' QB Drew Brees), 4 forced fumbles, and 2 Interceptions.

In week 5 against the New Orleans Saints , Antoine Winfield became the first player in NFL history to score on a blocked field goal, cause a fumble, recover a fumble, and record a sack in the same game.

Not to mention the Vikings won the Monday Night nail biter 30-27.

With this kind or rap sheet, why would a team be so hesitant to give out a contract extension? Winfield has payed dividends to the defense and the Minnesota Vikings franchise.

The biggest issue maybe that the Vikings extended the contract of fellow team mate and corner back Cedric Griffin this off-season. Signing Cedric Griffin to a three year contract extension.

It's possible that the Vikings are hesitant to resign him because of the recent dish out to Griffin or it also maybe Winfield's age is getting up there.

No matter what the issue, the Vikings must solve it and re-sign Antoine Winfield if they want to keep a leader on the field and in their locker room.

Antoine is a piece to the Vikings defensive puzzle that they cannot afford to lose, especially if they want to compete in an already tough NFC North.

It's too costly to loose a player of his skill level, considering the secondary is weak against the pass. Last year Minnesota's defense ranked eight-teen in the league in passing (215.6 yards/game).

Proving even more that losing a player like Winfield would be a crippling blow to a team already built to win.

If the Vikings want leadership on defense as well as in the locker room, their best chance is re-signing Antoine Winfield. 

Looking at the players they lost to free agency: Center Matt Birk to the Baltimore Ravens and Darren Sharper to the New Orleans Saints, the Vikings can't survive any more losses.

For the Vikings to be successful in 2009 or defend the NFC Northtitle, even get to the playoffs for that matter, they must find a middle ground with their veteran corner back and re-sign him.

With training camp soon approaching, the Vikings want a leader of Winfield's status at camp teaching the young players and being that strong leader.

The Minnesota Vikings hope to get this obstacle out of the way by the time training camp rolls around, not wanting to loose a good player.

Your fans hope the same!!!