Bernard Berrian’s time as a Viking has run out. The veteran wide receiver was waived today, midway through his fourth season in the Twin Cities.
The move brings to a close Berrian’s wildly inconsistent tenure with the Vikings and allows coach Leslie Frazier to move forward without a player that had caused him too many headaches this season.
Berrian was due $1.9 million this season. If another team does not claim him on waivers, the Vikings would be on the hook for the remaining $1.12 million left.
Berrian was expected to be a big part of the Vikings’ passing attack this fall, Berrian’s productivity slumped badly in the early season. He had only two catches for 37 yards in the team’s 0-4 start. He's also been put on the inactive list twice in the past three weeks.
Following a Week 4 loss in Kansas City, he also found himself in the center of a mini-controversy after engaging in a Twitter argument with state legislator John Kriesel.
Kriesel had instigated the bickering with a derisive Tweet in regards to Berrian’s claims that he had been open consistently.
“If you want to follow a hilarious twitter account, try @B_Twice (Bernard Berrian) who says that he’s open a lot and should get the ball more.”
Yet Berrian did himself no favors in the aftermath. First, he shot back at Kriesel on Twitter with this: “@johnkriesel Anytime u wanna watch the film with me. Not just one game but all of them. And if not sit down n shut up!!”
The next day when meeting with reporters, Berrian stuck to his guns and said he had been open for the better part of four years.
The following weekend Frazier put Berrian on the inactive list for a game against Arizona, a disciplinary move which subsequent reports indicated was tied to the receiver’s absence from multiple team meetings.
Then Sunday against Green Bay, Berrian was again put on the shelf, a move Frazier has refused to provide details on.
Asked Monday afternoon if Berrian was becoming a distraction, the Vikings coach spoke in ambiguous terms.
“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. We’ve just got to make sure that we get everybody focused on what we have to be focused on.”
Berrian met with Frazier for 15 minutes Monday afternoon then spoke to reporters in the Vikings’ locker room shortly after. When asked what he had done to declared inactive this past weekend, Berrian said he had been asked not to talk about it.
The frustrated receiver said there was definitely more he wanted to share but couldn’t. Asked if he was afraid that speaking out too much 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 with seven touchdowns. Yet over the following two seasons, he never developed much rapport with quarterback Brett Favre.
This past offseason, Berrian restructured his contract with the Vikings, taking a significant pay cut. But he never emerged as the big-play threat the team wanted him to be.
Berrian seemed to have gotten back into the good graces of Frazier and the team in Week 6, returning to the field and
having his best performance with five catches for 54 yards against the Bears.
But in the two games he has been inactive, the Vikings had their two best offensive outings, scoring 34 points against the Cardinals and 27 against the Packers. Furthermore, Devin Aromashodu stepped up against Arizona 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.”
Berrian was asked twice Monday whether he wanted to remain with the Vikings and was firm with his response.
“If I didn’t want to be here I wouldn’t have done what I did in the offseason [with the contract restructuring],” he said.
On Tuesday, the decision was made for Berrian. He will now be set free.