MANKATO -- The Vikings cut left tackle Bryant McKinnie today in a move that had been rumored to be coming.
The decision was made during a team meeting after McKinnie showed up to training camp weighing far more than what the team had wanted. The decision demonstrates just how frustrated the Vikings were with a guy who had a world of talent but seemed to lack the drive necessary to make himself an elite player. It also is an indication that coach Leslie Frazier means business.
McKinnie was placed on the non-football injury list Monday, meaning the Vikings did not have to pay him. He had a $4.9 million base salary and $1 million roster bonus for this season. Frazier said today that the newly signed Charlie Johnson would start out playing with the first team at left tackle. That was before the decision was made on McKinnie.
McKinnie, meanwhile, is attempting to put his own spin on matters through the website TMZ. He told the site that his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, asked the Vikings to release his client so he can sign with another team before next season.
According to McKinnie, he was placed on the NFI after doctors said his cholesterol was too high and he had to lose weight. "I'll definitely be ready for next season," McKinnie said. "That's not even a question."
"This decision, while not an easy one, is in the best interests of our football team as we move forward preparing for the season," Frazier said in a statement issued by the Vikings after the move was announced. "We appreciate Bryant’s contributions to the Vikings, and we wish him the best in the future."
McKinnie gave an indication of what happened this afternoon by tweeting, "It's been fun."
McKinnie was the seventh-overall selection in the 2002 draft by the Vikings out of Miami, making him the second-highest drafted offensive lineman in team history behind Ron Yary (No. 1, 1968). McKinnie conducted a lengthy holdout before signing his rookie contract. He stepped into the starting role at left tackle in a November game against the Packers a week after signing.
He started the final seven games of the season and did not miss another start until the 2008 season when he sat out the first four games after being suspended for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy. McKinnie was punished after being involved in a street brawl outside a Miami nightclub in February 2008. McKinnie forfeited $764,706 of his base salary of $3.25 million while sitting out.
That was one of a few off-the-field missteps by McKinnie.
NFL comissioner Roger Goodell took that action in part because of McKinnie's involvement in the infamous "Love Boat" incident on Lake Minnetonka during the 2005 season. He was docked a game check in 2006 ($41,176) for his involvement in the boat party.
Nonetheless, McKinnie received a seven-year contract extension worth $48.5 million in September 2006 that was supposed to run through 2013. The deal included $18 million in guarantees.
McKinnie did nothing to help his cause -- and caused plenty of anger in the Vikings organization -- after the 2009 season when he was kicked off the NFC Pro Bowl team after skipping three of the four practices, the team photo and all but the first meeting Tuesday night. He had been slated to play right tackle in the game.
McKinnie tried to explain after the fact that he was unable to play because of injury but by then the league had made its decision to kick him off the team. McKinnie also did not help his cause by tweeting about the events he was going to late night at the time in South Florida.
Rosenhaus did not immediately respond to a message.