Many issues appeared to be in doubt for Minnesota Vikings fans when the off-season began.
Who would be the starting quarterback? What would the Vikings do with their linebackers? Could the Vikings sign Sidney Rice?
The return of Bernard Berrian to the team, however, was not one of those issues.
Berrian had an anemic season last year catching only 28 passes for 252 yards. Bernard failed to even score a touchdown.
Any decent rookie could put up the numbers Berrian gave the Vikings last year. Doubt it?
Troy Williamson in his rookie year caught 24 passes for 372 yards and two touchdowns.
Further confirming his departure from Minnesota was the fact that Berrian appeared to be disinterested or pouting during games.
All Vikings fans felt certain that Bernard, with a salary cap number of $6.25 million, would be cut or traded to free up money to resign Rice.
Bernard also seemed to feel that he had worn out his welcome in Minnesota.
A few weeks ago, Berrian changed his Twitter background away from Viking colors and posted the tweet “bout to drive back to Fresno right now” the week before training camp opened.
Berrian's days in purple were clearly numbered.
Of course, things quickly change in the NFL.
Rice signed a big free agent deal with the Seattle Seahawks and the door opened for Berrian to stay in Minnesota.
Almost immediately after the Seahawks signed Rice, Berrian tweeted “was good talkin to everyone @ Winter Park. Got my playbook now, it’s time to study, study and study. Now I feel like football is back.”
Bernard then appeared to receive a strong vote of confidence from Coach Leslie Frazier when Minnesota introduced newly acquired veteran quarterback Donovan McNabb to the fans.
“We have weapons on this team that a lot of teams would love to have on their team, Pro Bowl players,” Frazier said. “(Quarterback Donovan McNabb is) not coming into a situation where the cupboard is empty at all.”
When Frazier was asked specifically to whom McNabb would throw the ball, Frazier didn’t hesitate, “We’ve still got Percy Harvin and Visanthe Shiancoe. Those guys are pretty good players. Bernard Berrian is going to step up and have a great year.”
Frazier was then asked a follow up question about what the Coach believed Berrian’s role would be during the upcoming season, especially being a deep threat receiver that stretch opposing counsel’s defenses.
“We’ve got Bernard Berrian here for a reason,” Frazier said. “He’s going to step up and help in that area.”
Are the Vikings really going to keep Berrian and pair him with Harvin as their two deep threat receivers?
The Vikings are not done wheeling and dealing, but the subsequent moves that they have made after Rice left town seem to suggest that the Vikings are planning to make Berrian a significant player within their offensive plans.
Minnesota signed free agent wide receiver Michael Jenkins to a reported three year contract. Jenkins caught 41 passes for 505 yards and two touchdowns last year for the Atlanta Falcons.
Jenkins is a solid possession type receiver but he has never been considered a big ball deep threat receiver. Jenkins has also never had a 1,000 yard season.
The Vikings also signed former Chicago Bear Devin Aromashodu to a one year contract. Aromashodu has done nothing so far in the NFL to distinguish himself as a wide receiver and it is hard to imagine him having a huge breakout year.
Devin, however unlikely Jenkins, can fly. Aromashodu could be a good pick up to provide depth behind Berrian and Harvin as a deep receiver threat.
Coach Frazier appears to be ready to begin the season with Berrian figuring prominently in his plans.
On the basis of what Vikings fans have seen from Bernard over the past two years, it is hard to understand why the Coach is placing so much faith in Berrian.
Vikings fans however do not have the benefit of the conversations that occurred between the Coach and Berrian.
Maybe Coach Frazier reached Berrian and we will finally see why the Vikings signed Bernard to a multi-year million dollar contract.
If the Vikings passing game struggles this year, there can be doubt that Coach Frazier will be criticized for his decision to bring back Berrian.
Of course, Minnesota still has some time to still pursue the New York Jets Braylon Edwards or the Green Bay Packers James Jones. After all, things change quickly in the NFL.
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