Coming off a 3-13 season and with a young QB they’re hoping will be the long-term answer, the Vikings entered this offseason clearly recognizing that it was time to rebuild the roster. Unfortunately, rebuilding the roster is a process that requires separating from key members of previously successful teams. And that’s exactly what the Vikings did on Saturday.
In releasing CB Cedric Griffin and OGs Anthony Herrera and Steve Hutchinson, the Vikings parted ways with three players who were all starters when the team won back-to-back division titles in 2008 and 2009 and then went to the NFC Championship Game after the ’09 season. While it’s hard to cut ties with players who were such important contributors on the field and – in the case of those three individuals – off the field as well, it’s also a necessary part of the process.
It’s been reported elsewhere that the total salary cap savings in releasing Griffin ($3.65 million), Herrera ($2.75M) and Hutchinson ($7.0M) will give the Vikings approximately $23 million in cap space to either re-sign or restructure the contracts of current players and pursue free agents on the open market. Recently I’ve been under the impression that the Vikings would not be candidates to sign a blue-chip free agent this year and would instead wait until next year – when they’re likely to be in better position to make a run – to make splashy moves. But now, with the salary cap space generated by these moves, will the Vikings take a more aggressive approach? Only time will tell.
For now, we can be sure that the Vikings are in full rebuilding mode and that the front office is clearly willing to make tough decisions to improve the product on the field. Releasing those three veteran players was indeed a tough decision, but also one that indicates a commitment to improving the roster.
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