The Minnesota Vikings released linebacker Erin Henderson, the team announced on Friday.
The Vikings had signed Henderson to a two-year, $4 million contract last March, but Henderson struggled with a personal issue and was arrested twice during the season for suspicion of driving under the influence.
Henderson started the first 10 games of the season before his issues surfaced. He was inactive for one of the final six games and did not play in another one, but started in only two of the final six games.
“I think I grew leaps and bounds as a player and as a person as well. You start to learn a lot about yourself when things can go wrong or bad, if you’re willing to try to learn, if you’re willing to look in the mirror and figure things out and I think I was able to do that,” Henderson said after the season. “Not just as a player, but as a person as well. Started watching the film honestly, looking at tape and seeing stuff I can improve on and what I can do better. As opposed to, ‘I’m here, I’m already the greatest ever.’ That allowed me to progress and get better as the season went on, just continuing to get the trust and respect of my teammates was huge for me. I think as my confidence grew, my play improved.”
Henderson, who played middle and weakside linebacker, finished the season with 154 tackles, including 15 for a loss, four sacks, six quarterback hurries, two interceptions and two forced fumbles.
Henderson was due to make a base salary of $1.95 million in 2014. His release will cost the Vikings $250,000 against the salary cap because of the prorated portion of his $500,000 signing bonus.
“I’m at peace with what I can do for the first time in my career. I’m not thinking, well if I had this opportunity I would do this, if I had that opportunity I would do that,” Henderson said. “This year I was put in the exact position I wanted to be in and went out and did exactly what I thought I could. People on the outside might not see it that way, but I know how I did this year week in and week out, I know the plays I made week in and week out, and I can rest easy knowing I took care of my business and hopefully the next coaching staff that comes in can see that as well.”
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.