PFF Floats Vikings as Possible Landing Spot for Antoine Winfield Jr

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Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Vikings need to find capable secondary help this offseason, in the worst way. They’ve had some promising developments arise over the last couple of seasons but, mostly, young defensive backs who have been drafted by the Vikings in the last handful of years have been on disappointing, in one way or another.

Related: Will Harrison Smith Return to the Vikings Next Season?

Could help be a familiar face waiting in the free agency pool, come mid-March. Pro Football Focus thinks so. On Friday, they tweeted out a graphic that included pending free agent and former Minnesota Gophers legend, Antoine Winfield Jr, along with text that read, “LANDING SPOTS”.

Minnesota Vikings a possible landing spot for Antoine Winfield Jr?

The graphic listed three teams. At the top was Tampa Bay is 1st, the LA Rams 2nd and his father’s former team, the Minnesota Vikings, were the 3rd and final team listed.

Since entering the NFL as a 2nd round draft pick back in 2020, Antoine Winfield Jr has blossomed into one of the best young swiss army knife safeties in the world, something that isn’t all that surprising to Gopher football fans who watched him blossom at the University of Minnesota.

He’s started 59 games in four years and those he has missed were due to injuries. On day one, Tweez was making an impact in Tampa but his 2023 season was next level. His 12 passes defended nearly matched his career total entering the year (15).

The former Gopher also posted a career high in interceptions (3) and led the league in forced fumbles (6), all while piling up 122 total tackles. Winfield finished top-5 in three PFF grading categories among safeties including pass rush (3rd | 92.7), run stop (1st | 91.5) and overall defense (3rd | 90.4). Earlier this month, Winfield was also named AP 1st Team All-Pro for the first time in his career.

Is Winfield signing in Minnesota realistic?

Would Antoine Winfield Jr fit what the Minnesota Vikings are looking to do this offseason? That depends on how you approach that question. This team desperately need an injection of young talent in their secondary. But… safety isn’t necessarily where they need the shot administered.

Yes, Harrison Smith is getting older, but we do not know if he is planning to retire yet. That certainly plays into this, both from a money and fit standpoint. They also have two promising young safeties in Cam Bynum and Josh Metellus.

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Not only that but the organization still claims to have faith in the future of former 1st round pick, Lewis Cine. Plus, Antoine Winfield Jr wants to cash in on the biggest deal he can possibly find, fresh off of his rookie deal, right? Will Minnesota’s front office pony-up more money for high-end safety play? That’s a worthy question.

More so than just about anyone else on this planet, I am very aware of how overhyped the Vikings’ cap problems are this offseason. But even so, it might not be the best place to spend their money. Still, dreaming about another Antoine Winfield in purple is difficult not to get nostalgic about.

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