Sunday slant: Here today, gone next year

The combination of Donovan McNabb and Bernard Berrian may live for the rest of this year or a few more weeks, but there is no chance they return in the same capacity next year. Their productivity, McNabb's contract and Berrian's escalating salary back that theory. Plus, what are the odds the Vikings get the No. 1 overall pick in the draft or Jared Allen breaks the single-season sack record?

In the past week, there have been numerous fan comments wanting certain Vikings cut. The team could be down to a nine-man football squad if all the fan requests were heeded by the front office. Fortunately, Chad Greenway, a veteran of the nine-man schemes, is not among those on the fanatic's chopping block.

Donovan McNabb and Bernard Berrian are front and center in the firing-squad lineup. Frankly, it's hard to blame the fans for wanting changes there, but releasing the vested veterans makes no sense, especially in McNabb's case. Because they were on the opening-day roster, both of their salaries are guaranteed for the season, meaning there is no salary-cap benefit in releasing them.

The quarterback, especially a veteran quarterback, is often the highest-paid player on the team, but it speaks volumes that McNabb's one-year deal that was renegotiated before he was traded from the Washington Redskins and is for just over $5 million. That's eighth on the team – even Cedric Griffin earns more on an annual average. It's also interesting that even a veteran like McNabb played the jersey-number game with his salary, needing an extra "5" in his contract to put him at $5,050,000 in base salary.

Like McNabb, Berrian also had to renegotiate his contract to be a Viking in 2011. With the free-agent contract he signed in 2008 after four years with the Chicago Bears, he was scheduled to make $3.9 million in base salary this year with a salary-cap hit of $6.26 million. In 2009, that had him ranked third on the Vikings' roster in average annual salary at $7 million. How the once-mighty – or at least serviceable – have fallen. He is now 21st in average annual salary after having his base salary slashed to $1.9, giving the Vikings even more salary-cap relief by having his cap number for this season plummet to $2.83 million.

There is little doubt that neither of them will be with the Vikings next year. McNabb's decreased deal was a one-year contract, and Vikings coach Leslie Frazier has stated since getting the job full-time that his desire is to find a long-term solution at the position, and that likely means Christian Ponder in 2012 (or before).

Berrian's deal run through 2013, but there is no way the Vikings swallow hard and absorb his absurdly out-of-whack pay-for-production in the coming two years. In restructuring his contract, the next two years' salaries were kept intact. He is scheduled to make $6.9 million in base salary next year and $7.9 million in 2013, with salary-cap numbers of $7.73 million and $8.73 million, respectively. If his release doesn't happen before the end of the season, you can be sure the team has no interest in retaining him for those thieving numbers.

The restructuring of both the McNabb and Berrian contracts were supposed be their opportunities to re-establish themselves, but they have effectively helped short-circuited each of their careers.

It's almost a chicken-and-egg scenario when it comes to their performances. Which came first: McNabb's lack of trust in throwing a catchable deep ball to Berrian, or Berrian's lack of effort battling for the contested pass when he has a chance?

At this point it doesn't much matter. Their inability (or unwillingness) to adequately explain their lack of productivity to Vikings fans during their interviews with the media has only helped put them atop the free-shipping wish list. Their performances started a quickly rising fever of boos that McNabb felt last Sunday at Mall of America Field.

McNabb's veteran experience might actually give the Vikings the best chance to win in the short term – it's hard to know otherwise until we see Ponder or Joe Webb in extended action – but the lack of explosive productivity from each of them assures they won't return in 2012, especially at their current pay scale.

QUICK SLANTS

  • The Vikings' 1-4 record has some fans hoping they "suck for Luck" – a reference to being bad enough to "win" the No. 1 overall pick in next year's draft and select Stanford phenom QB Andrew Luck. Luck is considered by many scouts and draft services to be as safe a quarterback selection as Peyton Manning was in 1998. So would the Vikings actually select a quarterback in the first round of consecutive drafts? If the scouting reports are accurate and if Luck, a junior, actually does declare himself eligible for the draft, it would be the smart move. Having two young quarterback options is better than none. However, there's probably too much surrounding talent on the Vikings roster to put them in the realistic conversation for the top pick.

  • Speaking of the No. 1 overall pick, the gambling site Bodog has the Vikings at 9/1 odds to end up with that pick. The Colts (Manning's team, no less) are at 3/1, followed by the Dolphins and Rams (both 7/2), Jaguars (4/1), Panthers (6/1), Broncos (7/1), Vikings (9/1) and Cardinals (10/1). The Vikings are tied with "any other team" at 9/1.

  • With 8.5 sacks, Jared Allen is on pace to have 27 this season, but he says he's not focused on the NFL single-season sacks record, which is 22.5. According to Bodog, he has an over/under of 18.5 sacks this year.


    Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.



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  • The Vikings' 1-4 record has some fans hoping they \"suck for Luck\" – a reference to being bad enough to \"win\" the No. 1 overall pick in next year's draft and select Stanford phenom QB Andrew Luck. Luck is considered by many scouts and draft services to be as safe a quarterback selection as Peyton Manning was in 1998. So would the Vikings actually select a quarterback in the first round of consecutive drafts? If the scouting reports are accurate and if Luck, a junior, actually does declare himself eligible for the draft, it would be the smart move. Having two young quarterback options is better than none. However, there's probably too much surrounding talent on the Vikings roster to put them in the realistic conversation for the top pick.
  • Speaking of the No. 1 overall pick, the gambling site Bodog has the Vikings at 9/1 odds to end up with that pick. The Colts (Manning's team, no less) are at 3/1, followed by the Dolphins and Rams (both 7/2), Jaguars (4/1), Panthers (6/1), Broncos (7/1), Vikings (9/1) and Cardinals (10/1). The Vikings are tied with \"any other team\" at 9/1.
  • With 8.5 sacks, Jared Allen is on pace to have 27 this season, but he says he's not focused on the NFL single-season sacks record, which is 22.5. According to Bodog, he has an over/under of 18.5 sacks this year.
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