Vikings re-sign Evans, sign RB Hilliard

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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) -- The Minnesota Vikings have dumped another veteran starter, releasing nose tackle Remi Ayodele one unproductive season into a three-year contract.

The timing of Wednesday's move was curious, if coincidental, coming hours after the NFL's announcement of fines and suspensions for New Orleans Saints officials for their roles in the bounty program that rewarded players financially for trying to injure opponents.

Ayodele won a Super Bowl with the Saints at the end of the 2009 season and played three years for them before signing with the Vikings. The league has yet to issue discipline for specific players involved in the bounty program.

Ayodele was given a $3.565 million signing bonus to replace aging stalwart Pat Williams in the middle of the line, but he managed only 15 tackles and 1½ sacks despite playing in all 16 games last season. The 28-year-old was set up for base salaries of $2.2 million in both the 2012 and 2013 seasons.

The Vikings also re-signed backup Fred Evans, who has seen spot duty at both defensive tackle spots since joining the team in 2007. Evans played in all 16 games last year and had 22 tackles. Vikings general manager Rick Spielman knows Evans from their days together in Miami in 2006. Another versatile backup defensive tackle, Letroy Guion, was re-signed earlier this week.

Vikings officials were traveling and unavailable for comment.

The team also signed running back Lex Hilliard, who spent the last three seasons with the Dolphins, rushing for 41 yards and a touchdown in 2011. Hilliard played in college at Montana. The Vikings currently have 60 players under contract for 2012.