The difficult process of releasing players was completed Friday for the Vikings, who needed to get down to 53 players by 8 p.m. tonight. The first reported to go was defensive end Jeff Charleston, but bigger names soon followed, including veterans Sage Rosenfels and Chris Carr.
Younger was better for general manager Rick Spielman. It has been clear that a youth movement is afoot after the team parted ways with several key veterans and Spielman said Wednesday that being young isn’t going to necessarily mean a predisposition to struggle.
“I know that we’re young, but I also know that we have some talent,” Spielman said. “I know that we’re going to have to grow and mature and we’re going to have to let that process take its course. I honestly believe that it’s going to pay off.”
Rosenfels, the veteran QB, was thought to have the No. 3 QB job locked up, but the team opted to go with rookie McLeod Bethel-Thompson instead, releasing the veteran who was entering his 12th NFL season.
Here are all the cuts the team announced Friday:
Emmanuel Arceneaux – The former CFL product caught half the passes thrown his way this preseason and showed he could be a deep target, but, when he appeared to lose a ball in the Reliant Stadium lights Thursday night that left Leslie Frazier shaking his head, it seemed to foreshadow his release. In his Vikings career, he spent most of last season on the practice squad. He was active for three games and caught one pass for 10 yards.
Chase Baker – With extended time in the preseason finale, Baker got pushed around too much in the interior defensive line, which spelled the end for the undrafted rookie from Boise State.
Chris Carr – Many thought the seven-year veteran had a decent chance to make the roster. After spending the last three years in the Baltimore Ravens defense, Carr, who hadn’t missed a game in his first six seasons, looked to make the roster if the Vikings kept 12 defensive backs, which was rumored to be a distinct possibility. Instead, he became another veteran casualty.
Jeff Charleston – Charleston was brought in from the Saints and was a member of the New Orleans team that was accused in the Bountygate scandal of attempting to injure Brett Favre. However, it would appear that his spotty play was the final culprit, not being part of the pay-for-pain Saints.
Chris DeGeare – As a rookie in 2010, he started five games in place of Steve Hutchinson, but was a practice squad player in 2011. The Vikings kept talking up DeGeare’s possibilities to challenge for the right guard spot, but he never seriously threatened Brandon Fusco’s job.
Ryan D’Imperio - He spent 12 games of the 2011 season with the Vikings, but somebody had to go in the fullback competition and his number came up. He never had much of a chance once the Vikings signed Jerome Felton in the offseason and he didn’t get a single carry the entire preseason.
Bobby Felder – The undrafted free agent from Nicholls State tweeted daily that all he needed was one opportunity. He got several opportunities but never had much of a chance to crack the 53-man roster. Buried deep on the depth chart at cornerback throughout the preseason, his release wasn’t a big surprise.
Eric Frampton – He has been on the Vikings’ roster since 2007 and admitted that special teams is his calling card. He didn’t offer much at safety, and the Vikings had other young guns to handle special teams coverage and clearly felt his special teams production could be replaced.
Trevor Guyton – A seventh-round draft choice this April, he was the only defensive lineman drafted by the Vikings in 2012. He never showed much during the preseason and was buried as a third-stringer on the depth chart.
Lex Hilliard – After spending three seasons with Miami, it was believed Hilliard was brought in as potential insurance if Adrian Peterson wasn’t ready to return. He was listed as the third running back throughout training camp and offered versatility as a tailback or spot-duty fullback, but ultimately he didn’t have enough production.
Tyler Holmes – The rookie from Tulsa wasn’t signed as part of the original slew of undrafted rookies immediately following the draft, but was signed in mid-May and spent the majority of the offseason buried on the depth chart.
Reggie Jones – He showed big ability and confidence early in training camp, but his aggressive coverage migth have got him in trouble with the regular officials and his muffed punt in the preseason finale Thursday night did him no favors. His career has yet to be fulfilled, after being placed on injured reserve as a rookie in New Orleans in 2009, spending 2010 on the Saints practice squad before being signed by Washington before the final week of the season and spending 2011 on the Vikings practice squad.
Kevin Murphy – Signed after being released by the 49ers in May, the Vikings listed Murphy as a backup left tackle, but he appeared too slow to play there. Despite a need to find a backup for Matt Kalil given DeMarcus Love’s shoulder injury, the Vikings didn’t feel Murphy was the man for the job.
Cory Paredes – Leslie Frazier thought Paredes showed up in the preseason finale, but he didn’t show much before that, which spelled the end for the undrafted rookie linebacker from Hawaii.
Austin Pasztor – The undrafted rookie from Virginia seemed to slowly move up the depth chart during the preseason, but he got beat badly a couple times in the preseason finale Thursday night. He may be a player the team considers bringing back to the practice squad, but he may end up going to Edmonton, where the CFL team has his rights.
Nick Reed – A three-year veteran who played with Seattle and Chicago prior to being signed, he tied for the preseason lead with two sacks and showed his quickness with his spin move. It is somewhat of a surprising cut, but defensive end is a deep position with the Vikings.
Sage Rosenfels – Something of a surprise, it would appear that he is the latest victim of the youth movement. The Vikings have released Rosenfels, marking the third time that he has been signed by the team and left without officially playing a game with the team. Signed in 2009, he was expected to compete for the starting spot, but was the No. 3 QB when Brett Favre arrived and was never active for a game. When Joe Webb arrived in 2010, he was traded to the Giants on cut-down day. He was signed off waivers in 2011 when the team released Donovan McNabb, but never played. Apparently he lost his battle with McLeod Bethel-Thompson for the final QB spot.
Quentin Saulsberry – The undrafted rookie from Mississippi State appeared to show well during his limited preseason action, but the Vikings need experience behind John Sullivan and Saulsberry clearly couldn’t provide that. The practice squad could be a possibility for him, too.
Mickey Shuler – A favorite of Spielman , Shuler wasn’t used extensively in the passing game, catching three passes, and never really stood out. Given that the Vikings had Kyle Rudolph and John Carlson atop the pecking order and Rhett Ellison playing well enough to be a hybrid TE-FB, it came down to Shuler and Allen Reisner and Shuler came out the loser in that battle.
Jordan Todman – After not playing the first two preseason games, Todman finished with a flurry. He went for 121 yards on 12 carries, including a 76-yard touchdown, in the finale, but an ankle injury held him back much of the preseason. Signed off the San Diego Chargers practice squad late last season, the Vikings were intrigued by his 4.3 speed, which was on display Thursday night in Houston. However, his late surge wasn’t enough to win a roster spot.
In addition to the cuts that are being made, offensive tackle DeMarcus Love was placed on injured reserve after suffering a shoulder injury that likely will require surgery. Love seemed to be the favorite to be the backup tackle on both sides of the line after being inactive for all 16 games last year as a member of the 53-man roster, but the shoulder injury ultimately took him out of too much action and ended his 2012 season.