Image courtesy of Vikings.com

Cullen Loeffler has played 171 snaps at long snapper for the Vikings, the most in franchise history and a testament to his staying power in Minnesota. Today, the organization says goodbye to their most-tenured player, releasing Loeffler after 12 seasons with the Minnesota Vikings.

“These types of decisions are the hardest part of our jobs,” said GM Rick Spielman in a statement released on the team’s official website. “Cullen was outstanding in the community and on the field for the Vikings. He handled his business with class and his impact in the locker room and on the franchise were second to none. We wish him the best in the future.”

Loeffler, who joined the Vikings as an undrafted free agent in 2004, signed a one-year, $1.05 million contract extension with an $80,000 signing bonus this offseason. The slight pay cut from his 2014 salary indicated the front office was prepared to release Loeffler if expectations weren’t met or bring in competition to raise his level of play.

Spielman opted for the second option, signing Kevin McDermott to a two-year contract in April and signaling a potential changing of the guard in 2015. McDermott was the college teammate of current Vikings punter Jeff Locke at UCLA and spent time with the 49ers, Ravens, and Broncos after signing as an undrafted free agent in 2013.

During training camp, special teams coordinator Mike Priefer declared the logjam at long snapper an open competition, noting a need for improvement from the veteran Loeffler.. “Either Cullen was going to keep working like he always does and improve and help us win that way, or we’re going to bring in somebody that could beat him out,” Priefer said, per the USA Today. “Right now it’s an open competition.”

That competition was relatively even through training camp and the first two preseason games, as Loeffler and McDermott split reps in games and practice. After Saturday’s third preseason game against the Raiders, the team felt it was time to make a decision and released Loeffler — Pro Football Focus’s worst-ranked long snapper in 2014.

Shortly after the announcement, Loeffler expressed gratitude for his time in Minnesota and thanked the organization for 12 successful years with the Vikings:

Good luck to Cullen Loeffler in whatever he may choose to pursue next.