Vikings release Brian Robison after 11 seasons with the team

Mark J. Rebilas, USA TODAY Sports Images

Robison was the longest-tenured Vikings player, was ninth in team history with 60 sacks.

The emergence of young players along the defensive line meant a tough roster decision for coach Mike Zimmer, general manager Rick Spielman and the Minnesota Vikings.

The announcement of the release of the team's longest-tenured player still rings as stunning.

Minnesota released 12-year veteran Brian Robison on Saturday as it tries to get to the 53-man roster limit. Robison, a fourth-round draft pick by the Vikings in 2007, ends his time with the team ninth in franchise history with 60 sacks.

Brian has been one of the best leaders Ive seen in my career and Im happy I got the opportunity to coach him, Zimmer said in a statement released by the team. Hes been such a great player for us and an even better help building the kind of culture we want with this team. Brian will be missed but his influence will continue to be felt on this team going forward.

Robison announced the news on his Twitter account earlier in the day.

Robison appeared in 173 career games, ranking third among defensive ends in team history, and made 103 starts. He started his career as a backup to Jared Allen before eventually becoming a starter and team leader.

He returned last season in a bench role behind emerging Danielle Hunter and played in 15 games, making one start and finishing with four sacks. Robison only missed three games in his time with the Vikings.

Brian Robison exemplifies exactly what we strive for as Minnesota Vikings, Spielman said in a statement. From the moment he arrived he proved to be a tireless worker, a great teammate, and most importantly, a leader on and off the field. Along with being one of the best to ever wear a Vikings uniform, Brian has an uncanny ability to connect with everyone he meets and a magnetic personality that commands respect. We will miss Brian but he will forever be a Minnesota Viking. On behalf of the entire organization, we want to thank Brian, Jayme and the entire Robison family for their immeasurable impact on our team and our community.

Vikings owners Zygi and Mark Wilf offered a statement in the release, stating: Throughout our ownership of the Minnesota Vikings, players like Brian Robison have made our journey special. Brian meant as much to the community as he did to our football team. He is an exceptional person and always carries himself with such class and character. We are honored to have Brian represent the Vikings for the past 11 seasons.

Defensive end Everson Griffen and returner Marcus Sherels are now the longest-tenured players for Minnesota.

The Vikings appear set to have young ends Tashawn Bower and Stephen Weatherly behind the starters, Griffen and Hunter.