Vikings cut Bryant McKinnie

Bryant McKinnie (Tom Dahlin/Viking Update)

The Vikings released Bryant McKinnie, ending his time in purple after being the seventh overall pick in 2002 and potentially saving the team up to $5.4 million in salary-cap space.

The Vikings released left tackle Bryant McKinnie, who started training camp on the reserve/non-football injury list.

McKinnie was scheduled to make $4.9 million in base salary with $500,000 in bonuses in 2011.

His base salary was actually scheduled to go down to $4.5 million in 2012, but his salary-cap hit would have increased to $6.5 million. The seven-year, $48.5 million contract he signed in 2006 ran through the end of the 2013 season and included $18.5 million in guaranteed money, a league record at the time.

The Vikings have asked a few veterans to restructure their contracts this year, including safety Madieu Williams, who was released before camp began when he declined, and Bernard Berrian, who decided to restructure his deal and is expected to begin practicing on Thursday. But the Star Tribune, citing a league source, said McKinnie wasn't asked to restructure his deal. Instead, he was simply released.

McKinnie tweeted "Its been fun" before his release was public, but he didn't elaborate.

"This decision, while not an easy one, is in the best interests of our football team as we move forward preparing for the season," Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said in a release. "We appreciate Bryant's contributions to the Vikings and we wish him the best in the future."

McKinnie was the seventh overall selection in the 2002 draft and has anchored the left tackle position after missing the first eight games his rookie season due to a contract holdout that took place during the Red McCombs ownership era.

McKinnie never missed a game because of injury and, although he frustrated fans with his laid-back attitude, he was at the very least serviceable and at his best possessed Pro Bowl talent.

According to the team's web site, "suspect play over the past two seasons, along with other ancillary issues, moved the Vikings to make a change."

The Vikings entered free agency early last week close to $5 million over the salary cap, which they have to be in compliance with by Thursday.

After starting all 16 games again in 2010, McKinnie moved into fourth place on the Vikings' all-time games-played list for offensive tackles at 132.

He was elected to the Pro Bowl after the 2009 season but caused an uproar when he missed a practice without communicating his absence to his Pro Bowl coaches – he was tweeting about partying into the early-morning hours – and was required to reimburse the NFL for expenses because he pulled out of the game too late to allow for a replacement.

McKinnie blocked for six of the top eight single-season rushers in Vikings history and three separate 1,000-yard rushers in Adrian Peterson, Chester Taylor and Michael Bennett.

Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.

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