Kelly asked for release after drop on depth chart

Updated: June 18, 2004, 3:04 PM ET
By Len Pasquarelli | ESPN.com

Just one week after he became miffed at sliding down the offseason depth chart, and asked coach Mike Tice to release him, Minnesota Vikings three-year veteran cornerback Eric Kelly had his request granted.

Eric Kelly
Cornerback
Minnesota Vikings
Profile
2003 SEASON STATISTICS
Tot Ast Solo FF Sack Int
5 5 0 0 0 0

In a relatively busy day of roster remodeling, the Vikings' jettisoning of Kelly, a starter for much of his first two NFL seasons, was the most notable move. The team also cut ties with second-year tight end Steve Farmer and rookie linebacker Steve Mack of Wisconsin.

The decision to release Kelly came after a Thursday personnel meeting in which Vikings officials evaluated their roster following the conclusion of organized offseason workouts earlier this week. It is likely that Kelly, whose playing time was reduced considerably in 2003, will draw some interest in free agency if he clears waivers.

Kelly, 27, was a third-round choice from Kentucky in the 2001 draft and started in 23 games his first two seasons. But in 2003, with Minnesota coaches making changes in the secondary, his role changed and he became a nickel defender and special teams player. Despite playing in all 16 games in 2003, Kelly logged no starts.

He re-signed with the Vikings as a restricted free agent, getting a one-year contract for the low-level qualifying offer of $628,000. Anyone claiming Kelly on waivers would assume that contract. The beginning of the end came when Kelly complained that second-year pro Rushen Jones was moved ahead of him to the No. 2 spot on the depth chart.

In three seasons, Kelly appeared in 48 games. He totaled 143 tackles, three interceptions and nine passes defensed.

Farmer was one of three Minnesota players allegedly involved in a recent altercation outside a Minneapolis night spot. Rumors have swirled the past two weeks that Farmer's roster spot was in jeopardy.

The Vikings added two free agents, wide receiver Ryan Hoag and defensive back Oliver Celestine on Friday afternoon. Celestine recently completed the spring NFL Europe League season with the champion Berlin Thunder and was in the Cleveland Browns camp last summer.

Hoag played at Division III Gustavus Adolphus and was the final player chosen, winner of the "Mr. Irrelevant" award, in the 2003 draft. He was released by the Oakland Raiders last summer after missing much of camp with a hamstring injury.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.