The Vikings elected not to offer tenders to quarterback Tarvaris Jackson, fullback Naufahu Tahi, wide receiver Hank Baskett and running back Albert Young, according to the Star Tribune.
At one point, the Vikings were expecting Jackson to be their quarterback of the future, but that never panned out. He had one last shot in 2010 when Brett Favre was injured, but Jackson was injured in the first half of his one starting opportunity, the first time he got a start since Favre joined the team before the 2009 season.
Jackson has started 20 of 36 regular-season games played, including one playoff loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. In his five-year career, Jackson completed 58.7 percent of his passes for 24 touchdowns and 22 interceptions and had a passer rating of 76.6.
Throughout this offseason, new head coach Leslie Frazier has said he wanted to find a young quarterback to build around. At the end of the season, he said the Vikings wouldn't pursue a Favre return and Frazier has seemed perfectly willing to move on without Jackson.
Even Jackson seemed to expect the move after the season.
"I don't even know how to feel. Usually I'm always on the other side looking at guys like, ‘Dang, I might not even see this guy next year.' Now I'm that guy that's probably going to be gone," he said following the 2010 season. "It's a little different, but it's part of the game. I'm not upset or disappointed with the situation. I was kind of disappointed last year that I didn't have a chance to be unrestricted, but I am (this year) so I guess we'll just see what happens."
The Vikings are left with Joe Webb and Rhett Bomar as the quarterbacks under contract for 2011.
Tahi was the team's only active fullback last year. While new offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave could use the tight ends moving into the backfield more often, Frazier said in late January that the fullback position is still expected to be part of the offense.
"Just when I was talking with Bill about where I would like to see our offense going, we'd still like to be able to feature a fullback, as long as you have a guy you feel real good about," Frazier told Viking Update at the Senior Bowl. "But you'd also like to be able to get your tight ends involved and let Jimmy (Kleinsasser) do some things in the backfield and even Visanthe (Shiancoe) maybe. There's a bunch of different scenarios that you could possibly go with, but it all depends on if we get our fullback resigned."
Ryan D'Imperio was drafted last year and moved from linebacker to fullback. He spent the season on the practice squad developing his blocking skills.
The free-agent moves leave the Vikings with the following players that they tendered as restricted free agents, with their expected compensation (although those with five or more years might not become unrestricted after a new collective bargaining agreement is reached):
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.