By now, we all know that the 2009 NFC Championship Game is one of the most visible examples of the New Orleans Saints' three-year bounty program. But there has been a secondary connection between the bounty story and the Minnesota Vikings: One of the Saints' defensive starters in that game signed a free agent contract with the Vikings last season.
AyodeleNose tackle Remi Ayodele, in fact, was the second player involved in a high-low hit that caused Vikings quarterback Brett Favre to suffer an ankle injury and throw an interception. Ayodele hit Favre high, while defensive end Bobby McCray grabbed Favre's ankle. The NFL later fined McCray and said a penalty should have been called.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is still mulling player discipline related to the bounty system, so we don't know if Ayodele is in line to be suspended. For now we'll just consider it a coincidence that the Vikings released Ayodele hours after the league announced unprecedented punishment against the Saints' organization and leadership staff.
What we do know: Ayodele made almost no impact after signing a three-year, $9 million deal a year ago. He started 13 games but played sparingly (23.6 percent of the Vikings' snaps) and managed only four official solo tackles.
The Vikings would be justified in releasing Ayodele for either reason: The fear of a looming suspension or ineffectiveness. Take your pick, as far as I'm concerned.