EAGAN, Minn. — The Vikings announced Tuesday they have released Shamar Stephen.
The defensive tackle spent six of the past seven seasons in Minnesota after he was a seventh-round draft pick in 2014 out of Connecticut.
The move helps the Vikings add a bit more salary cap space but also means Minnesota's senior-most defensive lineman is off the roster.
The Vikings now have Michael Pierce, Armon Watts and James Lynch as defensive tackles under contract for 2021. Minnesota cannot add free agents until the start of the new league year, which is set to open at 3 p.m. (CT) Wednesday.
Stephen was with the Vikings from 2014-2017 but played for the Seahawks in 2018. He returned to Minnesota for the past two seasons and played both defensive tackle spots.
The 30-year-old played 83 career games in Purple (with 51 starts). He recorded 148 total tackles (76 solo) with five tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, a forced fumble and three fumble recoveries with Minnesota.
Stephen started 31 games over the past two seasons, including all 16 contests in 2020.
After Pierce opted out because of COVID-19 concerns, the Vikings moved Stephen to nose tackle.
Minnesota struggled to stop the run this past season, as the Vikings ranked 27th with 134.4 rushing yards allowed per game. The Vikings allowed 95-plus rushing yards in all but one game this past season, and gave up a season-worst 264 rushing yards (and seven rushing scores) on Christmas Day against the Saints.
Stephen has played 98 total games in the league with 65 starts.