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FINANCES DICTATED DECISION TO LET WINFIELD JUMP TO VIKINGS

Question: With Troy Vincent having only played a little over two games this season, it has only fueled my concern about the Bills not re-signing (or at least seriously trying to re-sign) a younger Antoine Winfield last offseason. Maybe a comparison of the contracts that both players signed would answer the question: Why is he still not in Buffalo? -- Todd Ricotta, Scottsdale, Az.

Answer: The Vikings signed Winfield for a $10.8 million signing bonus. His contract is worth $34.8 million over six years. Vincent signed for a $3.6 million bonus and the deal is worth $20 million over six years. Winfield gets about $18 million the first three years, Vincent about $11 million.

Winfield is outstanding. However, teams must be very careful about how many players they're willing to pay at the top of the pay scale at their respective positions. This, coupled with the fact the Bills had young talent at cornerback in the pipeline, made the decision to let Winfield go the prudent move. Winfield's deal moved him up to roughly seventh among all cornerbacks, behind Champ Bailey, Ty Law, Charles Woodson, Chris McAlister, Sam Madison and Patrick Surtain.

Winfield has three interceptions this year. That makes four in his last 47 games. Does this mean the Vikings were stupid? Not really. Their cornerback cupboard was bare. They were desperate for someone who could cover. Winfield will be good for them for the life of the contract.

Meanwhile, the Bills had reason to believe they had depth at corner once they added Vincent. The early assessment of Terrence McGee, after seven starts, is promising. Plus, Kevin Thomas and Jabari Greer have done fine in the dime defense.

Q: Why is it that some very important plays cannot be challenged when the officials make bad calls? That Rams touchdown to Torry Holt last Sunday (in which he was forced out of the back of the end zone) was a bad call. I believe the official automatically presumes the defender pushes the receiver out of bounds. Is the defender supposed to just stand there and wait for the receiver to come down with the ball before he can make contact? -- Ron Link, Buffalo.

A: I agree, I agree, I agree. I think the officials, at times, do lean toward calling forceouts because they can't be reviewed. I think the rationale is it's very subjective whether it's replayed or not. I agree it should be reviewable. Non-reviewable plays, by the way, include: status of the clock, proper down, penalty administration, runner ruled down by defensive contact, forward progress not relating to first down or goal line, forceouts, recovery of loose ball in the field of play, and field goals.

Q: Mike Mularkey won't start J.P. Losman because he has not had enough practice. Why not just have the team practice longer? Instead of one 90-minute practice, where the starting quarterback gets 95 percent of the snaps, why not keep the team out there for three hours, so the backups can get as many snaps as the starters? Coaches work 20 hours a day, why can't the players work three hours a day on the field? -- Vinny Ferrentino, Rochester.

A: On the surface, a three-hour practice doesn't sound like too much to ask. However, coaches say it would be too much wear and tear on the players' bodies. The game takes a big physical toll, and they practice hard for close to two hours on Wednesday and Thursday.

"Really the twos are going the whole time," Mularkey said, referring to the fact the backups are running the opposing team's plays. "We do a lot of things in a two-hour time frame at a high tempo. We're going at a fast pace. We run a lot of plays. It's not like anybody's sitting around. On Friday, coaches stay afterward with younger guys and spend more quality time one on one, which you don't get during practice.

"There's a lot of wear and tear. As the season goes on you have to be smart about wearing down your players. People have a hard time believing that unless they're standing on the field and seeing how big and fast they are and how physical the game is."

e-mail: mgaughan@buffnews.com

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