The Redskins were interested in him from the start. When Minnesota cut cornerback Antoine Winfield, the Redskins were one of the first teams to contact his agent.
Now they’ve taken the next step: Winfield will visit the Redskins on Wednesday, a league source confirmed Monday afternoon. Winfield did not have any other visits scheduled as of Monday afternoon, but there were other teams interested, including his former one. The Redskins would have to free up cash to sign Winfield, whether by more pay cuts, a release or a restructuring. The Redskins are reluctant to do the latter because money gets pushed into the future, sometimes for players no longer on the roster. If there’s a player they know will be around a few years, then it makes sense.
As for Winfield, he researched everything from the scheme to the coaching staff and the talent already on the roster before deciding to visit, according to one source close to him. Winfield played with linebacker London Fletcher in Buffalo. Another factor that could help the Redskins: Winfield’s grandparents live in Northeast Ohio and don’t fly. If the Redskins can free up money and sign him, it would enable them to drive six hours to each home game. They’ve become known for driving to his games.
The Redskins clearly need another starting corner. They signed E.J. Biggers last week, but several NFL sources consider him more of a No. 3 or 4 corner capable of providing good depth. Whoever they do sign, that corner needs to be able to play in the slot. Winfield does this quite well, and is an effective blitzer from this position, another must in the Redskins’ scheme. Another option still available, DeAngelo Hall, played in the slot for Washington last season.
One former Winfield coach said in my Friday email report, “If you’re counting on him to add a solid presence and you’re trying to establish an identity, he can come in and establish that. He’s not a disruptive presence. He’s not selfish. He’ll be a team-first guy and he can play nickel and establish a level of toughness that they probably didn’t have before.”
Winfield is 35, but coming off a solid season. Minnesota released him for salary cap purposes, but has maintained contact with him. Here’s what I wrote about Winfield after the Redskins beat the Vikings in October: “Vikings corner Antoine Winfield is a personal favorite, not just because he’s an ex-Buckeye, though that’s why I liked him initially. But it’s because he’s very, very tough. How much so? I haven’t seen Niles Paul miss a block like he did in the second quarter. Winfield knocked him aside. Winfield played fast – his anticipation skills were outstanding — and physical all game; haven’t seen a corner play that well against the Redskins this season.”