The writing was clearly on the wall even before last week's NFL Draft that Vikings placekicker Ryan Longwell was considered expendable by a team committing itself to a youth movement. On Monday, the Vikings released the 16-year veteran kicker.
Head coach Leslie Frazier stated, “Ryan has meant a great deal to the Vikings organization both on and off the field over the past six seasons. We wish him all the best in the future and thank him for his service to the Minnesota Vikings.”
The move came a week after the Vikings drafted Georgia kicker Blair Walsh in the sixth round of the NFL Draft, and after the Vikings held a three day rookie mini-camp over the weekend in which it was reported Walsh performed well at.
Longwell, 37, played six seasons with the Vikings after spending the first nine years of his career with the Green Bay Packers. He has played in every one of his team's regular-season games -- 240 straight. He recorded 633 points during his six-year tenure with the Vikings, third in franchise history behind wide receiver Cris Carter and kicker Fred Cox.
Last year, Longwell converted 22 of 28 field-goal attempts and ranked near the bottom of the league in touchbacks. He had three seasons and $7 million left on a four-year contract he signed last summer that included a $3.5 million signing bonus. He was due to make $1.75 million salary this season.
Longwell thanked Vikings fans on Twitter, stating "You've been awesome to me and my family. God Bless!"
Walsh left college as the all-time leading scorer in Southeastern Conference history, but he slumped his senior year and made only 21 of 35 field goals.