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“Bountygate” Helps Rid Vikings of DT Ayodele
Prior to the 2011 season, the Minnesota Vikings signed defensive tackle Remi Ayodele with the idea that he could fill the void that Pat Williams left behind. Instead, Ayodele turned out to be ineffective and a horrible fit for the Vikings' defense.
Despite his lackluster performance, it seemed like the Vikings were unwilling to sever ties after investing a large lump of cash in the former New Orleans Saints defensive lineman. That was, until the NFL dropped the hammer on the whole "bountygate" fiasco.
Early in the 2012 offseason, it was discovered that the Saints and defensive coordinator Gregg Williams had implemented a bounty system on opposing players, including former Vikings quarterback Brett Favre during the 2009 NFC Championship Game. So once word spread, some hostility started to grow towards former Saints players, especially towards a certain one who was playing for the Vikings.
Finally, it appears that the burden has become too much to bear for the Vikings.
On Wednesday, March 21, the Vikings terminated the contract of Ayodele, who's potentially facing a suspension from the league for his participation in the "bountygate" scandal.
Although players' suspensions have yet to be handed down, they are expected after the NFL slapped Saints management with heavy suspensions and fines.
Ayodele was one part of the duo that put a vicious high-low hit on Favre back in 2009 that not only injured the veteran quarterback's ankle, but also forced him into throwing an interception. It was later determined that a flag should have been thrown on the play.
Since signing him, the Vikings have paid Ayodele a total of $4.25 million ($3.565 signing bonus, $685K base salary). With his release, the rest of his three-year, $9 million contract will be erased from the books.
Even without the "bountygate" situation, release still seemed like a likely fate for Ayodele. Throughout the 2011 season, he was ineffective as the Vikings' nose tackle. He struggled to command double teams and managed only 15 tackles and 1.5 sacks through 16 games (13 starts).
Especially with the recent re-signings of defensive tackles Letroy Guion and Fred Evans, both who are expected to play the nose tackle spot this upcoming season, it seemed that the Vikings were preparing for a future without Ayodele.
Whichever way you want to look at it, there were numerous reasons for the Vikings to send Ayodele packing. Whether it was due to the looming possibility of a suspension or his disappointing 2011 showing, his release was justified.
The Vikings will say that they let him go due to poor performance, but it just seems like too much of a coincidence for it to not be in some way tied to Ayodele's involvement in "bountygate".
Either way, he's gone now. "Bountygate" was undoubtedly a horrendous situation that soiled the NFL name and the Saints franchise, but at least there's some sort of silver lining.
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