As Bernard Berrian leaned against his locker stall Monday afternoon, he spoke with a tone of resignation. Declared inactive by coach Leslie Frazier for the second time in three weeks Sunday, Berrian declared his wishes to remain with the Vikings.
But with a disappointed shrug, he acknowledged reality: Frazier would have the final say.
"Les is his own person," Berrian said. "So whatever he says I've got to be good with."
On Tuesday, Berrian's time ran out. The veteran receiver was waived midway through his fourth season in the Twin Cities. In his place, rookie Stephen Burton was promoted off the practice squad.
It was the latest odd twist for a 1-6 team struggling to find its footing.
Berrian was expected to be a big part of the Vikings' passing attack, but his productivity slumped badly early this fall. He had only two catches for 37 yards in the team's 0-4 start.
Then, following a Week 4 loss in Kansas City, he helped generate a mini-controversy after engaging in a Twitter spat with State Rep. John Kriesel, who mocked the receiver's inflated self-confidence.
Adding to the silliness, Berrian stood his ground on the matter but did himself few favors when he adamantly insisted he had been open often over the past four years.
The following weekend Frazier put Berrian on the inactive list for a game against Arizona, a disciplinary move that subsequent reports linked to the receiver's absence from multiple team meetings.
Then Sunday against Green Bay, Berrian was shelved again, a move about which Frazier refused to provide details.
Asked Monday if Berrian was becoming a distraction, the Vikings coach hesitated.
"One of the things you're trying to do when you are where we are is make sure everybody's focused on who we're playing," Frazier said. "This week, I think we're playing Carolina. Everybody's focus has to be on the Carolina Panthers."
Berrian met with Frazier for 15 minutes Monday then spoke to reporters shortly afterward. When asked why he was declared inactive this past weekend, Berrian said he had been asked not to talk about it.
The frustrated receiver said there was more he wanted to share but couldn't. Asked if he was afraid speaking out would get him in more hot water, he laughed.
"You hit it right on the nail," he said.
Berrian originally signed with the Vikings in 2008 and had a promising first season, catching 48 passes for 964 yards and seven touchdowns. Yet over the following two seasons, he never developed much rapport with quarterback Brett Favre.
This past offseason, he restructured his contract with the Vikings, taking a pay cut that put him on a one-year, $1.9 million deal for this season. But he never emerged as a reliable big-play threat.
In the two games he was inactive, the Vikings had their two best offensive outings, scoring 34 points against Arizona and 27 against Green Bay.
Furthermore, Devin Aromashodu stepped up against the Cardinals with two catches for 81 yards and Michael Jenkins took Berrian's starting spot Sunday and responded with three grabs for 111 yards and a touchdown.
"The ball bounces funny ways sometimes," Berrian said Monday. "And you know the players that came in and took my spot did a nice job filling in that spot."
On Tuesday, Berrian was set free. He exited with a thankful statement, posted on his website.
"I have been blessed to have had the opportunity to be a part of the Minnesota Vikings organization for the past three-and-a-half years," he wrote. "I can't say enough about my teammates and the experience I have had here in Minnesota. I view this as an opportunity to grow as a player and to bring strengths to a new organization. I am eager to begin the next stage in my career and excited about the opportunity to continue my journey with a new team."