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Jordan Berry seeks to improve ‘consistency’ in quest to remain the Vikings’ punter

After the NFL draft concluded April 30, the Vikings brought in competition for Berry in Tulane undrafted free agent Ryan Wright. So Berry will have to beat out Wright to have a second season in Minnesota.

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Carolina Panthers
Minnesota Vikings punter Jordan Berry punts in the fourth quarter Oct. 17, 2021, at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Bob Donnan / USA Today Sports
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EAGAN, Minnesota — On the first day of the new league in March, the Minnesota Vikings re-signed punter Jordan Berry. He got a minimum salary of $1.12 million with no signing bonus and nothing guaranteed.

Actually, though, it wasn’t a tough negotiation.

“It was fine with me,’’ Berry said. “It’s a ridiculous amount of money, so I’ll take it.’’

Perhaps Berry and his agent could have held out to try to get better deal either in Minnesota or elsewhere. But Berry was eager to return to the Vikings, and he has a lot more he wants to show.

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In his first season with Minnesota and seventh in the NFL, the native of Australia in 2021 averaged a career-high 46.5 yards gross although his net average of 40.8 was middle of the pack in the league. And the Vikings after the season hired a new special teams coordinator in Matt Daniels under new head coach Kevin O’Connell to replace Ryan Ficken, who joined the Los Angeles Chargers.

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After the NFL draft concluded April 30, the Vikings brought in competition for Berry in Tulane undrafted free agent Ryan Wright. So Berry will have to beat out Wright to have a second season in Minnesota.

“You’ve got new coaches and they didn’t really know me, so that’s obviously going to be a part of it,’’ Berry, 31, said of his contract status and facing competition. “But the other part is I probably wasn’t the most consistent compared to what I want to be. I had like a decent year but there’s definitely room to improve always and obviously once you get in the 30s, you could start slacking off, too. Some guys drop off pretty quick when they get older, so they’ve got to cover their bases. But I’m feeling pretty confident in myself.”

Berry was asked to elaborate on the need to be more consistent.

“It wasn’t like I was always short or always low on hang time (but) it’s just like the odd ball here or there just wasn’t quite clean,’’ he said. “Just general overall consistency because last year I hit a few balls that were a really good hang time and a few that were really good distance and stuff. It’s just piecing it together and doing that with every single ball every single game.”

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Arizona Cardinals
Minnesota Vikings punter Jordan Berryprior to the game against the Arizona Cardinals on Sept. 19, 2021, at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.
Billy Hardiman / USA Today Sports

Before joining the Vikings, Berry was Pittsburgh’s punter for six years before being released last August in favor of then-rookie Pressley Harvin III. Despite his experience, Daniels is making adjustments to Berry’s mechanics.

“(We’re) trying to add a little bit more hang time to his balls because as you know, he’s a big-bang guy,’’ Daniels said. “He can hit 60-yard, 65-yard bombs, but sometimes we’ll find it where we need you to just to hit a 45-yard ball with a nice 4.8, five-second hang time. So right now we’re just trying to work on his drop, where he’s dropping it at and really just pick up on the hang time.”

Daniels said the Vikings, who conclude organized team activities with practices Tuesday through Friday, are having a “full-on kicker competition and punter competition.’’ At kicker, Minnesota brought in undrafted rookie Gabe Brkic to battle incumbent Greg Joseph, who has a one-year, $2.433 million contract with nothing guaranteed.

At Tulane, Wright averaged 47.5 yards gross in 2021. Berry said he and the rookie quickly have developed a good relationship.

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“He’s got a good, strong leg,’’ Berry said. “He’s a good kid. He obviously has a lot left. Hopefully, we both end up with a job (in the NFL).’’

Only one, though, will end up on the Vikings. If it’s Berry, he will wear No. 16 after donning 3 last year.

During the offseason, Vikings cornerback Cameron Dantzler approached Berry about wanting to change from 27 to 3, his number at Mississippi State. Berry agreed to give up his number for modest compensation.

“I wasn’t attached to 3 in any way, but I just said that my family, they’ll need to get new jerseys,’’ Berry said.

So Berry said Dantzler agreed to pay for 10 to 12 members of his family getting No. 16 jerseys with “Berry” on the back, which should cost a few thousand bucks. The cornerback appreciated the easy negotiation.

“That’s brotherly love,’’ Dantzler said.

Berry wore 4 when he played with the Steelers but running back Dalvin Cook switched to that number during the offseason from 33. Berry said he’d love to wear 37, his number at Eastern Kentucky, but punters can’t have that one in the NFL. So he said he just “took whatever was left.”

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