Originally posted on Fox Sports North  |  Last updated 3/10/12
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. Now with full control over the Minnesota Vikings' roster, general manager Rick Spielman wanted his team to become younger.He took the first step in that direction on Saturday as Minnesota released three of its longest-tenured players, guards Steve Hutchinson and Anthony Herrera and cornerback Cedric Griffin. All three were rumored to be cut or have their salaries restructured, but Spielman and the Vikings decided to part ways with three men who played a combined 20 years in Minnesota uniforms."It was a tough decision as we move forward and prepare for the upcoming season and the future of our organization," coach Leslie Frazier said in a release. "All three individuals have meant a great deal to the Vikings organization both on and off field over the years. We wish all of them the best and thank them for their service to the Minnesota Vikings."When Spielman was promoted to general manager a few days after the 2011 season ended, he was given autonomy over the roster and wanted the Vikings to become younger, more in line with the current trend in the NFL after years of playing for the present. Spielman believes in building through the draft and supplementing the roster with a few key free agents. He now has his chance.Minnesota drafted 10 players last year, nine of which spent time on the active roster. The Vikings expect to have another 10 draft picks this season after compensatory picks are announced at the league meetings later in March. Along with the No. 3 overall selection, Minnesota will be picking near the top of every round in April's draft.And by cutting Hutchinson, Herrera and Griffin, the Vikings achieved the objective of getting younger while clearing larger contracts to make room for free agents with the start of signing coming Tuesday. Speaking at the University of Minnesota pro day on Monday, Spielman said team officials were going to have one last meeting on Saturday to make decisions on cutting players."We have a pretty good idea," Spielman said Monday about his plans.With youth and salary cap space in mind, Hutchinson became an obvious target. An 11-year veteran, he has played the past six seasons in Minnesota and been team captain for the past five years. But the past two seasons have ended early for Hutchinson due to injuries. He missed the final five games in 2010 with a hand injury, and a concussion kept him out for the last two games in 2011. The seven-time Pro Bowl selection had told the Vikings he would like to play one more season, but he was due 6.95 million in the last year of his current deal.Herrera, an eight-year veteran, went from Minnesota's practice squad in 2004 to the starting lineup, where he had started each of the past 64 games he had played. Yet he had missed 12 games in the past three seasons and had one year left on his current contract at 2.65 million. The Vikings still have backup guard Joe Berger on the roster, and Brandon Fusco, a sixth-round draft pick last year, can play guard and center. But a shakeup is coming with both guards released. Minnesota has been most linked to Southern Cal left tackle Matt Kalil with the No. 3 overall draft pick. If the Vikings draft Kalil, last year's left tackle, Charlie Johnson, could be moved to guard, a position that might better suit him. Minnesota could also look to sign a guard in free agency.Griffin, the team's second-round pick in 2006, was signed through the 2014 season at a total of 14.4 million, but his play had slipped after two knee surgeries. He clashed with the coaching staff last season after apparently losing confidence to execute the plays called and was eventually benched. His release will save about 3.1 million this year and 10.3 million during the 2013 and 2014 seasons. The moves will save about 13 million this season and put the Vikings more than 20 million under the salary cap when free agency opens at 3 p.m. Tuesday.Spielman has said Minnesota will likely be patient when free agency opens but has talked about making a "big splash" if he sees a player the team really likes. Now he has the cap room to do that."If there's a guy there that we covet (they could sign someone right away), other than that we'll probably be patient and see how it shakes out," Spielman said on Monday.If the Vikings follow through and draft Kalil, wide receiver and the secondary would likely be the biggest areas of focus in free agency, and there are several players in each category who would represent upgrades for Minnesota. The Vikings also have to replace two starters at linebacker with brothers E.J. and Erin Henderson both hitting free agency. Minnesota has been rumored to be trying to resign Erin Henderson, who started at weakside linebacker last year.And now the Vikings have a pair of openings on the offensive line, too, but the goal to get younger has been accomplished.Follow Brian Hall on Twitter.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

WATCH: Russell Westbrook posterizes DeMarcus Cousins to seal win

Tampa Bay Lightning trade star goaltender Ben Bishop to the LA Kings in surprise deal

Divac makes bold promise after trading DeMarcus Cousins

Popovich praises Magic, wishes him well with Lakers

Report: Andrew Bogut likely to join Cavs after buyout

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report: Broncos expected to 'at least discuss' Romo

Report: Raiders don't expect to keep Latavius Murray

Report: Josh Hamilton needs another knee operation

Ball's father says comment about Lakers was misquoted

Revis hints he is open to taking significant pay cut

Several NBA executives have concerns about Lonzo Ball’s father

Top 10 shortstops in baseball for 2017

The most dangerous NBA teams flying under the radar

Eat, Drink, Watch: Your award-worthy weekend planning guide

Grading the NBA trade deadline on the Vince Carter scale

Box Score 2/24: A night of NBA disrespect

As NHL trade deadline nears, seven teams who could be dealing

The 'Pete Rose instead of Kareem? Surely, you can't be serious' quiz

Streaming sports docuseries you don't want to miss

Teams that can prevent a Cavs-Warriors NBA Finals three-peat

The NFL off-season is a passer’s fancy

The Aesthetic: Pushing the boundaries of the three-pointer

NBA coaches who should be fired soon

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Top 10 shortstops in baseball for 2017

The most dangerous NBA teams flying under the radar

Eat, Drink, Watch: Your award-worthy weekend planning guide

Grading the NBA trade deadline on the Vince Carter scale

Streaming sports docuseries you don't want to miss

As NHL trade deadline nears, seven teams who could be dealing

The 'Pete Rose instead of Kareem? Surely, you can't be serious' quiz

Teams that can prevent a Cavs-Warriors NBA Finals three-peat

The NFL off-season is a passer’s fancy

QUIZ: Name every MLB pitcher who has recorded 10 or more shutouts in a single season

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker