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Antoine Winfield released by Minnesota Vikings

The veteran defensive back bloodletting continues. Antoine Winfield, due to earn $7.25 million next season, has been released by the Minnesota Vikings, agent Ashanti Webb told NFL.com's Ian Rapoport on Tuesday.

ESPN Twin Cities's Tom Pelissero first had the report, and the Vikings officially announced the move almost one hour after free agency began at 4 p.m. ET.

Although Winfield arguably was the NFL's premier run defender at cornerback and didn't allow a single touchdown last season, Vikings coach Leslie Frazier recently suggested that the veteran was headed for a role reduction.

The Vikings are high on young cornerbacks Chris Cook and Josh Robinson, but this move primarily appears to be driven by monetary concerns. The team wanted Winfield to take a pay cut, but he was having none of that.

Coming on the heels of the Percy Harvin blockbuster trade, the Vikings have lost their second-best offensive and defensive players in a span of 24 hours.

As expected, several people associated with the organization are less than thrilled with Winfield's departure. "It's a move backwards," one source told Rapoport. An assistant coach added, "Winfield is a valuable contributor, an excellent leader. Someone will be lucky to have him."

Winfield turns 36 in June and ideally is suited for the slot. He's still playing at a high enough level to draw plenty of interest from contenders.

Vikings general manager Rick Spielman now has freed up money for a serious run at free-agent wide receivers Mike Wallace and Greg Jennings. In so doing, Spielman severely has hampered his team's ability to make a run at the playoffs for a second consecutive season.

Follow Chris Wesseling on Twitter @ChrisWesseling.

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