Cullen Loeffler was surprised when the Vikings released him, but the veteran long snapper was grateful the move happened early in the preseason so he can possibly catch on with another team.
Loeffler, 34, met with special teams coach Mike Priefer on Sunday and got the news that the team was going with Kevin McDermott at the long-snapper position.
“You’re always surprised when you get called into the office and they’re telling you that you are going to get released,” Loeffler said Monday morning. “But that’s the nature of the game and if you play the game long enough and you’re as fortunate as I have been, that call is going to come at some point in your career.”
Loeffler, who joined the team in 2004, appeared in 171 games as the Vikings long snapper and was the team’s longest-tenured player. He said meeting with Priefer was emotional.
“It was a hard situation for him,” Loeffler said. “We have such a great rapport. We’ve done so many great things together, having been ranked the No. 1 special teams in the league. We had tremendous success throughout our tenure, and it was definitely hard.”
Loeffler wasn’t sure about the future, saying, “At this point, it’s so early. It’s so fast. I’m just trying to process the whole situation and figure out exactly what the best options are for myself and my family.”
Quality long snappers are hard to come by, which makes the early release (teams don’t have their first mandatory cuts until next Tuesday) better in case teams are looking for such a specialist.
“It gives me some more time to see what the options are out there and see if other teams are interested towards the end of the preseason,” Loeffler said. “I’m kind of just figuring out exactly what I want to do. It was nice of them to be able to give me that time.”
Vikings kicker Blair Walsh missed three field goals and an extra point in Saturday’s 20-12 victory over Oakland at TCF Bank Stadium, but Loeffler was not singled out for those problems. “I felt like I had a great preseason and my tape speaks for itself,” he said.
What will he remember about his time with the Vikings?
“This organization has done a lot for me. The thing that I’ll remember the most are the people within the organization that I worked so closely with in the past 11 and a half years. From top to bottom, it’s just been a great experience — many laughs and many fond memories.”