In one of the more surprising moves before NFL teams reached the league-wide mandate to narrow down rosters to 53 players on Saturday, the Minnesota Vikings and left guard Alex Boone parted ways not long before the 4 p.m. ET deadline.
In total, the Vikings released 34 players after beginning to inform players of cuts on Friday afternoon. Minnesota's youth is evident as its final roster was whittled down to include 11 rookies, three of which were undrafted in defensive end Tashawn Bower, offensive tackle Aviante Collins and linebacker Eric Wilson. Three 2017 seventh-round draft picks (Ifeadi Odenigbo, Elijah Lee and Jack Tocho) did not make the 53-man roster.
Here's a closer look at the final cuts and other moves the Vikings made in solidifying their roster ahead of Week 1.
Most significant move: Boone's release was a stunner, for sure. The 30-year-old signed a four-year, $26.8 million contract with the Vikings in March 2016 and instantly became the team's starting left guard. Boone was set to make $6.6 million this season and his release isn't going to be cheap for Minnesota, given $3.4 million of his salary this year is guaranteed. Initial reports indicated that the Vikings asked Boone to take a pay cut and when he refused, the guard was released. ESPN's Adam Schefter reports that Minnesota unsuccessfully tried to trade Boone. With Boone gone, Nick Easton will fill the void at left guard after battling rookie Pat Elflein for the center spot throughout the preseason. The move holds its heaviest significance as the Vikings will have new starters at every spot on the offensive line: Riley Reiff at left tackle, Easton at left guard, Elflein at center, Joe Berger at right guard (who was primarily at center last season) and Mike Remmers at right tackle.
Vikings roll with two quarterbacks: Behind Sam Bradford and his backup, Case Keenum, the Vikings are looking a little thin at quarterback. After officially placing Teddy Bridgewater on the physically unable to perform list to start the season, the Vikings waived Taylor Heinicke with an injury designation. Heinicke sustained a concussion in Minnesota's final preseason game versus Miami and had been playing with a strained oblique muscle. If he clears waivers, Heinicke will go on injured reserve and could be released with an injury settlement and signed by Minnesota if he hasn't been picked up by another team. The Vikings also released Mitch Leidner, who battled briefly with Heinicke for the third-string job. Leidner could be called back as a practice-squad member when teams can begin forming their 10-member squad on Sunday.
Datone Jones to IR: Jones' time with the Vikings is likely over. The former first-round pick joined the Vikings in the offseason after spending his first four years in the NFL with Green Bay. Jones was on the bubble for making the roster given the number of options the Vikings have in their defensive tackle rotation. An injury to his shoulder prompted Minnesota to place him on injured reserve, which could lead to an injury settlement and his eventual release.
Secondary gets a boost: Minnesota tried to clarify its cornerback situation by adding a sixth corner on Friday. The Vikings sent a conditional seventh-round pick to Seattle in exchange for Tramaine Brock, who signed a one-year deal with the Seahawks last month worth $980,000. Brock's strengths as a run-stopper could make him the ideal candidate to step into the role at nickel corner if Mackensie Alexander's inexperience leads him to not be ready to take over the duties full time.
Bridgewater on PUP expected, but a ton of questions remain: Saturday was a step in the right direction for Bridgewater. The Vikings placing the quarterback on the PUP list indicates their belief that he'll see the field again this season, but things get interesting as it relates to his contract should he remain on PUP longer than expected. Bridgewater is in the final year of his rookie contract, and the NFL's collective bargaining agreement states that his contract will toll if he remains on the PUP list through the sixth game of the season, when the Vikings host the Ravens on Oct. 22. He'll be eligible to come off PUP after the first six games and would then have five weeks to return to practice. Minnesota would then have three weeks to activate him to the 53-man roster.
Released (32): G Willie Beavers, WR Moritz Bohringer, G Alex Boone, DT Dylan Bradley, CB Sam Brown, TE Kyle Carter, DT Chunky Clements, OL T.J. Clemmings, LB Noor Davis, T Reid Fragel, WR Isaac Fruechte , RB Bronson Hill, WR Cayleb Jones, G Zac Kerin, K Marshall Koehn, LB Elijah Lee, QB Mitch Lender, DE Sam McCaskill, RB Terrell Newby, DE Ifeadi Odenigbo, CB Jabari Price, TE Josiah Price, CB Horace Richardson, CB Tre Roberson, LB Edmond Robinson, T Austin Shepherd, CB Terrell Sinkfield, DT Will Sutton, P Taylor Symmank, G Freddie Tagaloa, S Jack Tocho, TE Nick Truesdell
Waived/injured (2): QB Taylor Heinicke, WR R.J. Shelton
Injured reserve (1): DT Datone Jones
Physically unable to perform (1): QB Teddy Bridgewater
Non-football injury (1): DT Sharrif Floyd
Suspended (1): WR Michael Floyd