The Vikings released wide receiver Bernard Berrian, a move that has been brewing for at least a few weeks after he was inactive for two of the last three games.
Berrian met with Vikings coach Leslie Frazier on Monday and said shortly after that meeting that he expected to meet with Frazier again on Tuesday to decide his future. Berrian said he wanted to remain with the team and that he wouldn't have cut $2 million off his scheduled $3.9 million salary for 2011 if that wasn't the case. Even with his salary reduced to $1.9 million for this season, there were undisclosed issues between him and the Vikings' coaching staff.
Berrian reacted on his personal website, BernardBerrian.com, releasing this statement: "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. 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."
With the move coming after the trading deadline, Berrian will hit the waiver wire and cost any team that claims him the remaining $1.1 million on his base salary. If Berrian clears waivers, he would be free to sign with any team.
Berrian spent about six minutes answering more than 40 questions (short answers, obviously) after meeting with Frazier on Monday, making a few things clear: He wasn't sure if would remain with the team, although he said that was his desire, and he was asked by the team not to go into details on the reason for the series of meetings with Frazier.
"I was told not to talk about that," said Berrian, who was asked if there are things he'd like to say but can't. "Obviously, I would, but I cannot talk about that.
"It's very frustrating. Anything negative is always frustrating."
Berrian signed a six-year, $42 million contract with the Vikings as a free agent in 2008 and had a 48-catch, 964-yard, seven-touchdown season in his first year in Minnesota. But since leading the NFL with his 20.8-yard average per reception in 2008, the yardage, average and overall production have dropped. Last year, he had only 247 yards, despite being active for 14 games.
"It's been frustrating," Berrian said of his time in Minnesota. "It started off good and then it just kind of went downhill from there."
A five-catch, 54-yard performance in Week 6 against his former Chicago Bears team had potential to put him back on track to productivity, but he found out Sunday that he would be inactive for the Vikings' game against the Green Bay Packers after something happened with him and the coaching staff over the weekend.
"Les (Frazier) is his own person so whatever he says I've got to be good with," Berrian said about his potential release on Monday, saying he was frustrated that he felt off-the-field issues were putting his season in jeopardy.
"Definitely much more frustrating than that when you can take care of stuff on the field. It's just little things like that."
Frazier called their meeting Monday a "meeting of the minds," but, like Berrian, he declined to go into details on the potential release, saying that Berrian's healthy scratch for Sunday's game wasn't for disciplinary reasons like it was two weeks earlier.
Berrian reportedly missed two team meetings before his first deactivation three weeks ago against the Arizona Cardinals. Before that, he had a well-publicized Twitter exchange with Minnesota Rep. John Kriesel, during which Berrian tweeted that the politician and co-author of a proposed Vikings stadium bill should "sit down n shut up." At the time, Berrian didn't know Kriesel was a politician or that he had lost both of his legs while serving in Iraq.
The team promoted seventh-round draft pick Stephen Burton to the 53-man roster from the practice squad to fill Berrian's spot.
At Long Beach (Calif.) Community College, Burton averaged more than 21 yards per reception in 2007 (39 catches for 823 yards). He started 17 of 24 games for West Texas A&M the last two years, catching 132 passes for 1,903 yards and 13 touchdowns, including 11 in his senior season. Was also used on kickoff and punt returns.
The Vikings also terminated the contract of former Gophers defensive lineman Cedric McKinley, who had been on the practice squad. That leaves a spot open on the eight-man practice squad, but no acquisition there was announced Tuesday.
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.
Vikings cut ties with Berrian, waive WR
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