Notebook: Bernard Berrian is 'going to step up,' Leslie Frazier says
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- At the NFL owners' meeting in March, Minnesota Vikings coach Leslie Frazier made surprisingly bold statements of support for two embattled, overpaid veterans.
The Vikings released safety Madieu Williams on Thursday, saving themselves $5.5 million against the salary cap. But Bernard Berrian wasn't among those three initial cuts -- and Frazier once again threw his support behind the 30-year-old receiver on Friday.
"Bernard Berrian is going to step up and have a great year," Frazier said.
The team's pursuit of several free agents -- they've been linked to Braylon Edwards, James Jones and Malcom Floyd in recent days -- suggests they're less than satisfied with the group remaining after losing top receiver Sidney Rice to the Seattle Seahawks.
But Frazier bristled when asked who will catch the ball from new quarterback Donovan McNabb, said acquiring a receiver is "not our focus" and dismissed the suggestion the Vikings need a deep threat.
"We've got Bernard Berrian here for a reason," Frazier said. "He's going step up and help us in that (deep-ball) area. Percy (Harvin) can still catch the ball deep. Visanthe (Shiancoe) can still stretch the field down the middle of the field. We've got some weapons to stretch the field when we need to."
Berrian, whose cap number is more than $6.25 million, had six-year lows last season in catches (28), receiving yards (252) and touchdowns (zero) on a career-low 9.0 average. But he posted on Twitter that he was at Winter Park earlier this week, received new coordinator Bill Musgrave's playbook and "now it's time to study study study."
As for Williams, Frazier said the reigning Walter Payton Man of the Year is "one of my personal favorites." But after evaluating the roster, it became clear the team needed to go in another direction.
"I'm hoping that everything works out well for him in his next endeavor, whatever team he ends up with," Frazier said. "He was a good player for us. It was just something we felt like we needed to do as we went forward."
Frazier indicated the Vikings continue to pursue a contract extension with linebacker Chad Greenway that would reduce his roughly $10.1 million cap number before the salary cap kicks in on Aug. 4.
Work apparently hasn't begun on extending the contract of All-Pro halfback Adrian Peterson, who has a team-high cap number of $12.775 million as he enters the final year of his rookie contract.
"We want to be able to make sure that we get Adrian secured at some point," Frazier said. "We're not at that point right now. We've got some things we're trying to take care of. But Adrian is a priority -- a major priority for us."
A day after the Vikings signed nose tackle Remi Ayodele to a three-year, $9 million contract, Frazier wouldn't rule out the return of veteran nose tackle Pat Williams, although that seems rather unlikely considering the team's salary-cap situation.
"Not certain still what's going to happen with the Pat situation," Frazier said. "We'll see how this all unfolds in the next few days with free agency with him, along with our situation as we're still trying to put our roster together."
Ayodele said he also received interest from Tennessee, Seattle and Denver as well as New Orleans, where he'd started the past two seasons.
"I just liked the opportunities that the Vikings presented and I made the move," Ayodele said.
The price for '5'
Punter Chris Kluwe tweeted earlier in the week he would allow McNabb to take away the No. 5, provided the new Vikings quarterback mentioned Kluwe's band, Tripping Icarus, at least five times in media conferences during the season.
In a video posted to the team's Web site on Friday, Kluwe increased the price to include a $5,000 charity donation and, for some reason, an ice cream cone.
Asked about the ransom on Friday, McNabb said the band's name six times in a span of about a minute -- although the stipulations of their agreement involves the mentions occurring on separate days.
"Tripping Icarus is a nice band that really has soothing music," McNabb said. "It really changes the mood of things and it's one that I enjoy."
Kluwe plans to wear No. 4 instead.
• The Vikings had not agreed to terms with any of their 10 draft picks as of 9 p.m. Friday. But NFL sources said they were close to deals with at least three late-round selections.
• Frazier expressed no ill will about Rice's decision to bolt for a five-year, $41 million deal with Seattle. "We would have loved to have him back, no question about it," Rice said. "But he got an offer that was satisfactory for his family. I'm happy for him. I hope things work out great for him."
• Frazier said the team remains in contact with free-agent LB Ben Leber, whom the team would like to retain but may receive a more lucrative offer elsewhere. "He's a guy who's done a great job as well," Frazier said. "I had a chance to speak to Ben on the phone and just explained where we were financially."
• Frazier declined to discuss the reported pursuit of free-agent LT Jermon Bushrod, who re-signed with the Saints for two years on Thursday.