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Updated: August 2nd, 2011 2:41pm
'It's been fun': Bryant McKinnie released, claims it was his decision

'It's been fun': Bryant McKinnie released, claims it was his decision

by Tom Pelissero
1500ESPN.com
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MANKATO, Minn. -- Bryant McKinnie's career with the Minnesota Vikings is over.

The Vikings confirmed a little before 3 p.m. Tuesday they have released their longtime left tackle one day after placing him on the non-football injury list.

"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 brief statement posted on the team's Web site.

"We appreciate Bryant's contributions to the Vikings and we wish him the best in the future."

McKinnie, 31, raised eyebrows minutes earlier with a cryptic post on Twitter -- "Its been fun" -- and had appeared unhappy as he went through another rehabilitation workout during practice on Tuesday morning.

But he told the gossip Web site TMZ.com that he asked to be released through his agent, Drew Rosenhaus. He also revealed the Vikings placed him on N-F/I because doctors found he had high cholesterol in addition to being overweight.

"I'll definitely be ready for next season," McKinnie told TMZ, suggesting he might take a year off from football. "That's not even a question."

Frazier said at his post-practice media conference that he'd know more about the situation after an afternoon staff meeting, which apparently ended in the Vikings deciding to cut ties with a former first-round pick who started 131 games over his nine seasons in Minnesota.

The Vikings appear poised to move forward at left tackle with Charlie Johnson, who played there most of the past five seasons with the Indianapolis Colts and signed a three-year contract on Monday. Moving right tackle Phil Loadholt also could be a consideration, but there are questions about whether Loadholt has the feet to play that spot.

Cutting McKinnie yields a savings of $5.4 million against this year's salary cap, with which the Vikings must comply by 3 p.m. Thursday. Because McKinnie was placed on the non-football injury list before the start of camp, he's unlikely to collect $750,000 in 2011 bonuses and his ability to collect his $4.9 million base salary may be in doubt, too.

McKinnie arrived at training camp looking well over his listed weight of 335 pounds, and Frazier acknowledged conditioning was a problem. It wasn't clear if McKinnie was injured, too -- he said on Monday he was having "some issues" and declined to stop and speak with reporters on Tuesday.

The Vikings reportedly tried to acquire another left tackle, Jermon Bushrod, before he re-signed with New Orleans last week. Once they signed Johnson and McKinnie wasn't cleared for practice, it became obvious something was amiss.

One report on Tuesday said the Vikings tried to trade McKinnie, but apparently, they found no takers. So, they opted to sever ties with a player who had been highly durable at a difficult position but also gained a reputation for being contentious with his weight, partying and putting himself in bad situations off the field.

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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