The Vikings began turning over the offensive line by releasing their two starting guards from the 2015 NFC North champions.
Guard Brandon Fusco and tackle/guard Mike Harris were cut, the team announced Friday.
Fusco, 28, did not return to form last season in his move back to the right side after a disappointing year at left guard in 2015. He had three years left on a five-year extension with none of his remaining salary guaranteed. Fusco shared his thoughts Friday on social media, thanking the Vikings and calling the move a “small hurdle I will have to get over.”
— Brandon Fusco (@BrandonFusco) February 10, 2017
Fusco started 64 games after he was selected in the sixth round (172nd overall) by Minnesota in the 2011 NFL Draft. He earned an extension before the final year of his rookie deal in 2014 and wasn’t able to regain form after a torn pectoral muscle three weeks later.
He missed two games due to a concussion at the end of last season.
“I’ve had an up and down season,” Fusco said before the Jan. 1 season finale vs. the Bears. “Some good games, some bad games. I feel like that’s how our whole season has been as a team. It wasn’t the season I really wanted to have for myself or as a team. Looking forward to next year and just going to go from there.”
The Vikings gain about $5 million in 2017 cap space with the moves, carrying $1.6 million in dead cap space via Fusco’s contract.
Part of the Vikings’ 2016 injury woes along the offensive line included Harris, who started 17 games the previous season at right guard. Harris was not medically cleared to play after what he described as a “head injury” last summer and spent the year on the non-football illness list. Harris was in a contract season on a one-year, $2 million deal, so his deal had been tolled to next season.
Harris started 22 games for the Vikings at both guard and tackle after he was acquired off waivers from San Diego in 2014.
The moves leave the Vikings with three interior offensive linemen with starting experience in Alex Boone, Joe Berger and Nick Easton.