Vikings Release Three, Tender Others

The Vikings officially released three veteran players today and tendered qualifying offers to others.

Tight end Jermaine Wiggins, cornerback Fred Smoot and right tackle Mike Rosenthal were released, and, in addition to previously reported restricted and exclusive free agents, the team made qualifying offers to defensive end Darrion Scott and running back Artose Pinner.

Wiggins, a seven-year vet out of Georgia, caught 46 passes for 386 yards and a touchdown in 2006, a marked decline from his 2005 season, when he had 69 receptions for 568 yards, and 2004 season, when he had 71 catches for 705 yards. Each of those productive seasons came under a different offensive scheme and a different coaching staff.

Wiggins told several media outlets that he asked for his release after a frustrating season where he felt under-utilized.

The Vikings have been looking for a tight end that better fits Brad Childress' West Coast offense since he became their head coach last January, and the release of either Wiggins or Jim Kleinsasser had been rumored for some time.

Kleinsasser had only seven receptions last year.

Smoot's tumultuous 2006 season included losing his starting job to rookie Cedric Griffin, the death of his half-brother in a car accident, and a broken jaw in his own car accident. He finished the season with 64 tackles and seven passes defensed and was placed on injured reserve/non-football injury.

Rosenthal played in 15 games in 2006 between offense and special teams, and he started three games at right tackle while replacing an ineffective Marcus Johnson before Rosenthal was replaced himself by then-rookie Ryan Cook. Since coming to the Vikings, Rosenthal started all 16 games in 2003, two in 2004 before suffering a season-ending broken foot, and 12 in 2005.

Scott, a third-round draft pick in 2004, finished the season leading the Vikings with 5.5 sacks while registering 49 tackles. He played in 16 games, starting 13 of them after Erasmus James was placed on injured reserve.

Pinner played in 12 games, starting one against his former Detroit Lions club in which he rushed 29 times for 125 yards and three touchdowns. He finished the season with 43 rushes for 190 yards and three TDs.

Unrestricted free agency starts at 11 p.m. Thursday.

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