October 25, 2011
It's safe to say that when the Minnesota Vikings signed former Chicago Bears receiver Bernard Berrian(notes) to a six-year, $42 million contract with $16 million guaranteed money in March of 2008, they expected more than what they've received. In his 3 1/2 years as a Vikings receiver, Berrian amassed just 138 receptions for 1,925 yards and 11 touchdowns. In 2010 and 2011 combined, he put up just 35 total catches … and it's not as if he hasn't had the opportunities.
In his 2011 season, Berrian was targeted 23 times by Vikings quarterbacks, and he caught just seven passes. That 30 percent catch rate is the lowest in the 19-year history of Football Outsiders' metrics, which track catch rate for primary and ancillary receivers and tight ends going back to 1993. Berrian had never had stickum hands before — he had gone above 59 percent catch rate in just one season before — but this season has been ridiculous.
On Tuesday, the Vikings decided they'd had enough. Between his abysmal performance and off-field missteps, Berrian had made himself an impossible load to any roster to carry. The team released him, with head coach Leslie Frazier simply saying that "we did it based on some of the things that had happened."
Berrian was one of many missteps for the Brad Childress administration, though Childress certainly seemed happy about the signing when it happened. "We have the running game where we want, and you don't want to be one-dimensional in this league because they can gang up on you whether you're only passing it or running it, so this will help us average that out," the former Vikings head coach said when the deal was done.
Berrian never provided that balance — he never jelled with Brett Favre(notes), and as the team moved from Favre to other options, his playing time decreased even more. According to ESPN Stats & Info, Berrian's playing time had decreased drastically in each of the last four seasons — from 82.7 percent of all snaps in 2008, to 78.6 percent in 2009, to 56.1 percent in 2010, to just 49 percent this season. He was a healthy scratch for the Vikings' Week 7 loss to the Green Bay Packers last Sunday.
It was his second inactive designation in three weeks. Berrian is due $1.9 million this year as a vested veteran even after taking a pay cut, and the Vikings are on the hook for all of that unless another team picks him up.
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