I thought this day would never come, at least not during this season.
After what seems like ages of anxious anticipation, the Minnesota Vikings have finally severed ties with woeful wide receiver Bernard Berrian. Considering that he only has seven catches to his name in the five games he’s been active for this season, this move is long overdue.
For the past three years, Berrian has continuously become more and more of a nuisance for the Vikings offense. The situation finally escalated in 2011, a season that has been muddled with the presence of subpar performers like Berrian. In two of the past three weeks, the Vikings have deactivated Berrian, forcing him to watch from the sidelines as he continued to become the player that fans loved to hate.
When Berrian was finally given the boot, his season totals stood at a whopping seven catches for 91 yards to show for his efforts (or lack thereof). The majority of those catches (five) came in the Vikings’ game against the Chicago Bears during which they were beaten to a pulp. The two least-embarrassing performances by the Vikings so far this season were the ones that Berrian was deactivated. I think it’s safe to say that the roster spot that he occupied for almost half the 2011 campaign has been wasted up to this point.
Although this season has already been grounds for severance, his pitiful play didn’t start in 2011. Since the beginning of the 2010 NFL season, Berrian has hauled in 35 passes for 343 yards and no touchdowns. Compare that to his first two seasons with the Vikings, during which he had 103 receptions for 1,582 yards and struck paydirt 11 times. I’m no math whiz, but that seems like a rather steep decline in production.
When the Vikings initially signed Berrian as a free agent, he was brought in to be a deep threat who could stretch the field and open up the rest of their underneath receivers. At first, he played the role well as evidenced by his 99-yard touchdown catch in 2008. However, in the past two years, the longest play that he’s made went for 30 yards. In that same period of time, every Vikings player that has at least 15 receptions has had a catch of over 30 yards. Talk about a deep threat.
Hopefully the Vikings can now begin to repair the damage that Berrian left in his wake.
With Berrian now out of the picture, the Vikings will have an extra roster spot with which they can scope out the potential of some of their younger wide receivers.
The Vikings have initially filled the void on the active roster with rookie free agent Stephen Burton. A seventh-round pick out of West Texas A&M, Burton has been honing his NFL skills as part of the Minnesota practice squad through the first seven weeks. He’ll now be given the opportunity to provide an extra target for rookie quarterback Christian Ponder.
If Burton doesn’t pan out, the Vikings also have another young option at wide receiver in Emmanuel Arceneaux. Brought over from the CFL prior to the NFL Lockout, Arceneaux played sparingly during the preseason but is still adjusting to the speed of the NFL. Despite his early struggles, there’s a plethora of potential waiting to be unlocked.
Considering his modest $1.9 million salary for the 2011 season, don’t be surprised to see some desperate, injury-stricken team claim him once he clears waivers (cough... Redskins!).
And please, let’s end all of the “Terrell Owens to the Vikings” conversations now. They’re playing for pride at this point and there’s no need to inject TO-sized drama into this locker room. They need to give Burton and Arceneaux chances to prove that they’re NFL-caliber wide receivers instead of watching a has-been unsuccessfully attempt to resurrect them from the dead.
No matter what the future holds, there’s one thing we can all be certain of: no longer will we have to suffer while watching Berrian disgrace the horns.