Chris Kluwe announces his release from Vikings: 'So long, Minnesota'
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With one typically obscure reference, Chris Kluwe announced his release from the Minnesota Vikings on Monday morning, ending an eight-year ride that became increasingly wild over the past eight months.
"So long, Minnesota, and thanks for all the fish!" the veteran punter and sometimes activist, author, musician and gamer posted on Twitter, referencing Douglas Adams' fourth book in the "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" series.
He then followed up more seriously: "Thank you to all the fans, my teammates, and the Wilf family for the past 8.5 years. I wouldn't have traded it for anything."
Kluwe, 31, had been scheduled to meet with Vikings general manager Rick Spielman on Monday to discuss his future.
His release comes nine days after the Vikings used a fifth-round draft pick on his left-footed successor, fellow UCLA product Jeff Locke, who apparently answered any questions about his aptitude during this past weekend's rookie minicamp.
Kluwe had said he hoped to compete the job he'd held since 2005, breaking several team records -- - including career gross average (44.0) and punts downed inside the 20 (198) -- along the way.
He also knew he might not get a fair fight, given the Vikings' investment in Locke suggested they intended for the rookie to win the job.
Kluwe's future had seemed murky since last season, when he drew a public rebuke from special teams coordinator Mike Priefer, who questioned Kluwe's focus after he campaigned in support of marriage equality and wore a "Vote Ray Guy" sticker on his uniform during a game.
In an interview with 1500 ESPN the day after picking Locke, Spielman said Priefer regretted what he said and Kluwe's off-field interests had nothing to do with the team's pursuit of other options. But there is no question Kluwe's personality clashed with the personality of Priefer, an old-school coach and former Naval officer who is known for an intense, vocal approach.
Kluwe posted a career-best net average (39.7 yards) on 72 punts last season, but that was good for only 17th in the NFL in a remarkable statistical season for punters. His gross average of 45.0 yards ranked 22nd.
He had been due $1.4 million in base salary and a $50,000 workout bonus in 2013. There was no bonus proration left on the extension he signed in 2007 and thus no cap hit for cutting him.