Big deal for a small corner

First, a note about the play of the day. We constantly hear about the need for disciplined repetition in the long offseason, about the long hours that quarterbacks and receivers put in working on pass patterns from March through July in the hope they’ll pay off during the season.

Sunday’s play of the day, however, featured two players who didn’t have an offseason with their team. Brett Favre -- in case you haven’t heard -- joined the Minnesota Vikings in mid-August when he finally walked through the door that was left open for him for a year. Greg Lewis was an Eagle when the offseason started, then was traded to the Patriots for a fifth-round pick. Bill Belichick always liked Greg Lewis; well, at least he did before making Lewis one of the team’s final cuts. Then, when Bobby Wade wouldn’t take a pay cut from the Vikings and was released (he’s now with the Chiefs), Lewis replaced Wade on the roster. So two players who joined the Vikings in August and September, who never had one rep together prior to the start of the season, made the play of the day. So much for reps.

One other note: I’ve seen those Seattle Seahawks uniforms before. When I was general manager of the Barcelona Dragons in 1991, we played the Orlando Thunder and their blinding lime green uniforms. While the Titans and the Jets (nee Titans) paid homage to the AFL with their throwback unis, it was nice of the Seahawks to honor the World League of American Football and the Thunder.

Vikings, Bills lock up top corners

The Vikings recently came to terms with an established veteran player (no, not that veteran). Antoine Winfield, while small in stature, packs a punch. When I worked at the Packers, I vividly remember our offensive coordinators and players such as Donald Driver and Greg Jennings telling me that the offense game-planned around Winfield. Plays were designed with him in mind.

I remember when Winfield was a free agent in 2004 and was being wooed by the Jets at their facility when he was sneaked onto a private plane that brought him to Minnesota to sign a six-year, $40-million contract with the Vikings. Free agency can be like the Wild West, and the Jets were furious with Winfield’s agent and the Vikings.

The Vikings have now torn up that contract and replaced it with a five-year extension (four new years) worth a total of $35 million.

As Winfield was due to make $6M in 2009, the amount of “new money” in the contract is $29M over four years, an APY (average per year) of $7.25M.

There’s $16M guaranteed in salary rather than bonus, a tactic increasingly employed by teams with favorable cap situations to not mortgage any future cap costs from prorated bonus amortization. It’s a solid and prudent way to manage contracts that several teams are now using for veteran extensions and large free-agent contracts.

In Buffalo, the team Winfield left for the Vikings five years ago, the Bills brought Terrence McGee under contract in the last year of his deal. McGee has been the Bills’ top corner since the departure of Nate Clements to the 49ers in free agency.

McGee signed a five-year deal -- four new years -- worth a total of $27M. Since McGee was scheduled to make $3M this season and that amount is not changed with the new deal, the “new money” in the deal is $24M, and APY of $6M. There’s $9M in guaranteed dollars in the form of a $3M signing bonus and a $6M roster bonus in March 2010.

Winfield and McGee were in the final years of their contracts and would have been 2010 UFAs (Unrestricted Free Agents), even though the requirement for free agency will be six years rather than four without a salary cap. Although they didn’t receive the level of last year’s extensions that the Giants’ Corey Webster ($43M, with $20M guaranteed) or the Panthers’ Chris Gamble ($50M, with $23M guaranteed) did, the deals got done, and the uncertainty of 2010 is moot for the top corners in Minnesota and Buffalo.

An upside to trading Crabtree?

I’ve received a lot of questions about trading the rights to Michael Crabtree, but the reality is that the 49ers want to sign him and have been trying since they made him an aggressive offer in May. What would trading Crabtree (who is now outside of Orlando with his trainer and best friend) bring the 49ers?

(1) A 2010 first-round draft choice? They already have two and don’t want another with a significant investment expected for a new stadium.

(2) An established veteran player? Another expensive option unless they “rent” the player like Richard Seymour across the bay.

(3) Making a statement to Crabtree and agent Eugene Parker? They have already offered a generous contract for the slot and will not increasing their offer.

They’ll sign him, although it is now maddening.

Happy Yom Kippur to our Jewish readers. Feel free to pass along some comments for me to read to take my mind off fasting for the day.

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