After his arrest this weekend for three counts of simple assault, you knew Aaron Berry was in trouble.
The Detroit Lions had to act. After all the heat they'd received due to multiple knuckle-headed moves by players off the field, they were under pressure by both media and fans.
That it why Berry's second off-field issue just made Detroit's decision easier. Of course, he was released on Monday, according to ESPN.
People are saying it was the right thing to do, that it sends a message.
I agree with the first part, but there was no message here, really.
This is a franchise that looks out of control. Let's admit, as a group, that we really have no idea if that's true. Further, we don't know how much of a distraction all the arrests this offseason will be.
We can say, with all authority, that there is one less distraction now.
First, why it was the right thing to do. The impression we have for the Lions is that they publicly "tisk tisk" but privately don't seem to back it up.
Releasing Aaron Berry was:
So despite their lip service, not many people feel anything is being done. It's hard to imagine that, if something was being done, they wouldn't have been shouting it from the rooftops.
Well, that's what this is. This is the franchise's way of saying, "See? We're doing something!"
And they are.
Now this is isn't entirely risk-free—the secondary had issues before, and removing Berry isn't completely addition by subtraction. However, it's pretty low-risk.
I felt like Berry had a pretty good shot at winning the starting job across from Chris Houston, but he was far from a lock. Plenty of other guys—Dwight "Little Bill" Bentley and Jacob Lacey being atop the list—were going to nip at his heels.
He took a lot of first-string reps in spring practices, but that doesn't mean he'd be starter or that if he was, he'd be good.
The Lions pretty much have the same questions without him that they did with him.
He didn't count much against the cap, and according to Kevin Seifert at ESPN, he counts $500 against the cap post-release. So as Seifert points out, he's not exactly a huge investment to lose financially.
That is what makes his release—his punishment, if you will—mean nothing in the larger scheme of things.
Berry was an undrafted player making little to no money who wasn't guaranteed a starting spot on the team.
Sure, releasing him does make a point and send a message to fringe players.
It's fair to say if this were Nick Fairley again, or Ndamukong Suh or Matt Stafford, nobody would have been released.
It's also fair to say Stafford and Suh are probably not foolish enough to pull a gun on three people (allegedly), but the point stands—if you are a high draft pick, you probably have a much longer lease.
That is the reality in the NFL, and anyone who says different is fooling with you. The higher the draft pick, the bigger the investment (both financially and organizationally) in the player.
So what does this really prove? Does it mean the Lions are taking on a new "get tough" standard?
No, it really doesn't. Sure, to some extent, it means the Lions are "straightening up."
There's just also an addendum that says "if you're a fringe player..."
It's always been this way, and it probably always will.
Releasing Aaron Berry was the right move because—well, enough is enough.
It's not not a move that sends a big message. Really, there's little message at all.