The Vikings cut their roster down to 53 players on Saturday, in the process saying goodbye to some notable offensive linemen while trading for another lineman.
Recent draft picks David Yankey and Tyrus Thompson were among the final cuts, though both are candidates to be added to the team’s 10-man practice squad.
Yankey, a 2014 fifth-round pick, struggled in pass protection this preseason after the Vikings moved him from guard to tackle. He did not play a snap as a rookie.
Thompson, a 2015 sixth-round pick, never appeared to be comfortable at guard, the position he played most this summer after performing well as a tackle in college.
The Vikings also released center Tom Farniok, guards Bobby Vardaro and Isame Faciane, and Babatunde Aiyegbusi, the massive but unpolished tackle from Poland.
Meanwhile, seventh-round pick Austin Shepherd and center Zac Kerin, who spent last season on the practice squad after signing as a rookie free agent, made the team.
The Vikings also traded for San Diego Chargers guard Jeremiah Sirles, an undrafted free agent in 2014 who played two games for the Chargers last season. According to multiple reports, the Vikings dealt a 2016 sixth-round draft pick to the Chargers.
Minnesota, barring another move, will enter the season with nine offensive linemen.
Three linebackers cut
The Vikings also faced tough decisions at linebacker, where they entered Saturday with nine players at the position. They ended up saying goodbye to three of them.
Brian Peters, who joined the team after a successful stint in the Canadian Football League, was among the cuts. So was 2014 seventh-round pick Brandon Watts. Then 2013 seventh-round pick Michael Mauti was also let go due to the numbers crunch.
Edmond Robinson, a 2014 seventh-round pick, earned a spot on the 53-man roster.
Fruechte among cuts
Former Gophers wide receiver Isaac Fruechte was among the final cuts, but a league source said that the Caledonia native will be considered for the practice squad. Fruechte, a rookie free agent, caught six passes for 49 yards.
The Vikings also released fellow wide receivers Donte Foster and Ryan Whalen.
The team kept six receivers, including Adam Thielen, the Detroit Lakes native.
Heinicke is No. 3 QB
Taylor Heinicke, a rookie free agent out of Old Dominion, has made the active roster and will serve as the third quarterback behind Teddy Bridgewater and Shaun Hill.
Heinicke played well in Thursday night’s preseason finale, completing 27 of his 41 attempts for 279 yards and two touchdowns in a 24-17 loss to the Tennessee Titans. Heinicke also impressed coach Mike Zimmer with his toughness.
Two 2015 picks cut
Thompson wasn’t the only member of the 10-player 2015 draft class to receive a pink slip. Defensive tackle B.J. DuBose, also a sixth-round selection, was waived, too.
Last year, cornerback Kendall James was the only draft pick to not make the cut.
Other Vikings cut
The Vikings also officially released or waived safeties Anthony Harris and Shaun Prater, cornerback Josh Thomas, defensive tackles Greg Hickman and Chigbo Anunoby, defensive end Leon Mackey, running backs DuJuan Harris and Dominique Williams, and fullback Blake Renaud.
Notable players who survived the cuts include cornerbacks Captain Munnerlyn and Marcus Sherels, linebacker Audie Cole, fullback Zach Line and tight end Chase Ford.