Vikings Coach Leslie Frazier Sets the Tone by Releasing Bryant McKinnie

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Vikings Coach Leslie Frazier Sets the Tone by Releasing Bryant McKinnie
Charley Gallay/Getty Images

Offensive tackle Bryant "Mount" McKinnie, the seventh overall draft choice in 2002, has been unceremoniously released by the Minnesota Vikings.

Coach Leslie Frazier issued a short statement today in releasing McKinnie.

“This decision, while not an easy one, is in the best interests of our football team as we move forward preparing for the season,” Coach Frazier said in his statement.  “We appreciate Bryant’s contributions to the Vikings and we wish him the best in the future.”

Releasing a 6’8", 340-pound left tackle, the man who protects your quarterback’s blind side is never an easy decision. 

The decision is made even more difficult when six of the eight best rushing seasons in franchise history occurred with him plowing the road; he was durable and he never missed a game due to injury in nine years, and he was voted to the Pro Bowl last year.

Of course, maybe McKinnie made the decision easier for the Vikings by the string of bad decisions he made at the end of the regular season.

McKinnie’s first bad decision was when he partied to the early morning hours leading up to the Pro Bowl and became the first player to be sent home from the contest with a bill to pay the league $5,000 in travel expenses.

David Sherman/Getty Images

The reported $100,000 tab that Bryant racked up at the NBA All-Star “Kick Off Party” at MyHouse nightclub was also not one of his better decisions.

Throughout the spring and summer, the CEO of BMajor Music appeared to be more interested in tweeting about the hustle and bustle of the music business and the exciting South Beach social life than keeping himself in shape.

McKinnie reportedly rolled into camp on Monday well over 360 pounds and was promptly put on the non-football injury list and told to get into shape.

On Monday, the Vikings wasted no time in giving themselves some options by signing Charlie Johnson, who started 54 games at left tackle for the Indianapolis Colts.

“I feel like that’s what they brought me in for, was to come in and compete and try to get one of those five spots on the line,” Johnson said on Tuesday morning before the McKinnie move was announced.  “I’m not going to sit back and try to bide my time and wait.  I’m going to come in and compete and see what happens.”

Good thing Johnson came ready to play.  The Vikings must have appreciated that Johnson came ready to play because less than 24 hours later, they were ready to give McKinnie his walking papers.

The move in releasing McKinnie will save the Vikings $5.4 million and allow them to come under the salary cap.

Did Coach Frazier make the right decision?

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Coach Frazier has to know that cutting McKinnie is very risky given that his starting quarterback, Donovan McNabb, is no longer spry as he turns 35 in November.  Frazier, however, seems willing to roll the dice with Johnson.

Coach Frazier has put his stamp on the team in cutting McKinnie. 

Coach Frazier is clearly the man in charge, and players who don’t come ready to play better be prepared to pay the consequences.

McKinnie indicated to TMZ that he asked for his release and will be ready for this season if another team picks him up.

McKinnie is an incredibly agile and gifted athlete.  McKinnie likely can return to football if he decides to make the mental commitment to the sport.

However, maybe McKinnie will never play again.

McKinnie is 31 years old, and it's clear if you follow him on Twitter that his biggest interest isn't ever going to be football.

Frazier just might have made his first brilliant move of the season.

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