Vikings cut ties to embattled WR Berrian after four seasons

The other shoe finally dropped for Bernard Berrian.

The Vikings released Berrian, a league source told NFL Network insider Jason La Canfora on Tuesday, and the team later confirmed the move, ending the curious case of the wide receiver who publicly fell out of favor in Minnesota.

"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," Berrian said in a statement. "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."

Berrian met with coach Leslie Frazier on Monday about his status and had another talk scheduled for Tuesday, following his second healthy scratch in three games. Frazier declined to specify Sunday after losing to the Green Bay Packers why he left Berrian on the inactive list again, but the coach hinted this move was coming.

Berrian watched the Vikings' Oct. 9 game against the Arizona Cardinals on the sideline in street clothes, too, and Frazier said that was for a disciplinary reason, reportedly because the receiver missed two team meetings. The coach said afterward he didn't "foresee any future problems" and that Berrian remained a significant part of the team's offensive plans, but the vote of confidence was conspicuously missing the last two days when Frazier gave vague answers to questions from reporters about the receiver's status.

Between those benchings, Berrian had his most productive game of the season, with five receptions for 54 yards. But even that night at Chicago, he dropped a crucial third-down pass while running wide open on a slant route, failing to give quarterback Donovan McNabb and the struggling offense an important early spark.

Berrian is a vested veteran, so the Vikings must pay him all of his $1.9 million salary unless another team claims him. He took a pay cut to stay this year, down from $3.9 million, and had the last two seasons of his original contract lopped off.

Berrian signed for $16 million guaranteed and made several million more than that after leaving the Bears to join the NFC North rival Vikings in 2008. Missing the deep threat they could rely on for many years with Randy Moss, the Vikings counted on Berrian to stretch the field with his elite speed and diversify their game plans to keep defenses from piling up to stop running back Adrian Peterson.

But after collecting eight touchdowns, including one punt return for a score, and 964 receiving yards that first season, Berrian quickly went downhill.

The Vikings elevated rookie wide receiver Stephen Burton from the practice squad to take Berrian's place on the active roster. They also released defensive end Cedric McKinley from the practice squad, leaving two open spots there.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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