A day after Minnesota’s blockbuster signing of wide receiver Bernard Berrian, league insiders are still wowed by the $42 million, six-year contract he received from the Vikings. There’s a price to pay when doing damage to your division rival. The Bears have only two wide receivers under contract—Mark Bradley and Devin Hester—who have caught a pass in an NFL game.
The Vikings have a proven deep threat that is going to force opponents to think twice about stacking eight defenders in the box to stop the two-headed rushing attack of Adrian Peterson and Chester Taylor. Before you throw darts at the Vikings for overpaying, recall they had the most lucrative offer extended to Kevin Curtis last offseason and he spurned them for Philadelphia. A good offense got better.
It’s been hailed as one of the three or four best contracts for a wide receiver in the league. And it goes to a guy who has yet to make a Pro Bowl or have a 1,000-yard season. But consider there is some projecting involved with the contract. Berrian played with Bears quarterbacks, several of them, and it’s not fair to pass judgment on an offensive player on this team over the last four seasons.
The Bears changed starting quarterbacks 10 times in Berrian’s four seasons. It went like this—Jonathan Quinn, Craig Krenzel, Chad Hutchinson, Kyle Orton, Rex Grossman, Orton, Grossman, Brian Griese, Grossman, Orton.
We’ve got a good handle on how the numbers stacked up for Berrian all along, including when the Bears first went to him last June with a contract proposal that included $8 million guaranteed.
A look at the numbers:
June 2007—Bears propose a six-year extension to Berrian that would add five new years and gurantee him $8 million.
July 2007—Berrian’s camp took its time getting back to the team with its proposal. Berrian asked for $40 million in a five-year extension with $23.85 million paid over the first three years of the deal. That’s a key number to remember.
February 2008—Before heading to the combine, the Bears offered Berrian a $25 million, five-year contract with $8 million to sign. His camp didn’t respond. Berrian made it be known he wanted a deal that averaged $8 million annually and included $18 million guaranteed with $24.5 million paid over the first three years.
Friday—The Vikings and Berrian’s people broke off conversations late at night with Minnesota believed to be offering a deal worth roughly $6 million per season. The Bears remained on their number of $25 million over five seasons reasoning if he wanted to play for the Bears, that was a good contract.
Saturday—Berrian’s camp worked the numbers up with a trip to Oakland hanging in the balance. The final figures were not far off what Berrian asked for during the summer—$42 million over six seasons with $16 million guaranteed and $23 million over the first three seasons. The Bears never came off their initial offer.
Receivers everywhere are ecstatic. Imagine what Randy Moss is angling for now.