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Updated: March 10th, 2012 2:28pm
Vikings release Steve Hutchinson, Anthony Herrera, Cedric Griffin

Vikings release Steve Hutchinson, Anthony Herrera, Cedric Griffin

by Tom Pelissero
1500ESPN.com
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The Minnesota Vikings have finalized three roster moves that seemed inevitable for months.

Starting guards Steve Hutchinson and Anthony Herrera have been informed they'll be released, an NFL source said early Saturday afternoon.

Shortly after, the Vikings confirmed both moves in a statement on their website and said cornerback Cedric Griffin also has been released.

"It was a tough decision as we move forward and prepare for the upcoming season and the future of our organization," coach Leslie Frazier said in the statement. "All three individuals have meant a great deal to the Vikings organization both on and off field over the years. We wish all of them the best and thank them for their service to the Minnesota Vikings."

All three veterans will become street free agents once their names appear on the waiver wire on Monday afternoon.

Hutchinson, 34, was due $7 million in salary and bonuses this season. Herrera, 31, was due $2.75 million and had $833,335 in unamortized bonus proration remaining on his contract. Griffin, 29, was due $4.15 million and had $1 million in proration remaining.

Cutting all three generates a cap savings of about $13.4 million, putting the Vikings more than $23 million under the salary cap when free agency begins on Tuesday.

Frazier, general manager Rick Spielman, vice president of football operations Rob Brzezinski and other team officials were scheduled to meet on Saturday to finalize several decisions about their roster and plan for free agency.

Dumping Hutchinson and Herrera were two of the most logical moves, with both players in physical decline and the Vikings trying to get younger as they rebuild after a 3-13 season.

Joe Berger is the favorite to start at one guard spot, and the Vikings likely will look to fill the other spot by moving Charlie Johnson inside after drafting Matt Kalil to play left tackle. Brandon Fusco, a sixth-round draft pick last year, and practice squad holdover Chris DeGeare also could be options.

Griffin wasn't the same player last season after his second knee reconstruction and made clear after the season he had no plans to return. The Vikings are hoping Chris Cook can return, pending the outcome of his trial on felony domestic assault charges, and also are likely to upgrade the unit via free agency and/or April's draft.

Saturday's moves represent another changing of the guard for a rebuilding team that severed ties with the likes of Pat Williams, Madieu Williams, Bryant McKinnie and Ben Leber last year.

Herrera has spent his entire career with the Vikings, appearing in 80 games (70 starts) since making the team as an undrafted free agent out of Tennessee in 2004.

Hutchinson, the seven-time All-Pro, signed a seven-year, $49 million deal with the Vikings in March 2006 after spending his first five NFL seasons with the Seattle Seahawks. He started 89 games over six seasons with the Vikings and ended up on injured reserve in 2010 (broken thumb) and 2011 (concussion).

Griffin was a second-round draft pick out of Texas in 2006. He appeared in 80 games (70 starts) for the Vikings, recording eight interceptions, 48 passes defended and 14 forced fumbles.

Tom Pelissero is Senior Editor and columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He hosts from 6 to 8 p.m. weeknights and co-hosts from 10 a.m. to noon Sundays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Tom | @TomPelissero | Tom Pelissero
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