Wade led Vikings WRs in 2007-08

Updated: September 10, 2009, 6:47 PM ET
Associated Press

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Bobby Wade agreed to dock his pay last week. Then came the bigger cut.

The Minnesota Vikings released the seventh-year veteran wide receiver Thursday and signed free agent Greg Lewis instead, preferring Lewis's versatility in the offense and on special teams.

Reached by phone, Wade declined to comment. Coach Brad Childress denied any disappointment with Wade, who led the Vikings in receptions in both 2007 and 2008.

Because of his experience level, Wade's $1.5 million salary -- about half the original figure for 2009 -- would've been guaranteed for the season if he was on the roster for Sunday's opener at Cleveland.

"It happens every year. It's the business portion," Childress said after practice. "We had a sitdown. That's never an easy discussion to have."

With first-round draft pick Percy Harvin now playing the slot position, the Vikings had fewer opportunities for Wade. He was able to make his share of clutch catches and tally 645 yards on 53 receptions and two touchdowns last season, nearly identical to his numbers the year before. He often drew praise from Childress for his effort, but his effect on special teams was limited.

Second-year players Jaymar Johnson and Darius Reynaud are the primary punt returners. Lewis can play each receiver position, and Bernard Berrian and Sidney Rice are entrenched at the outside spots.

"The more you can do the better off you are," Childress said.

Lewis spent six seasons with the Eagles, the first three while Childress was the offensive coordinator there. His best performance was in 2005, when he caught 48 passes for 561 yards and a touchdown while starting all 16 games.

Undrafted out of Illinois in 2003 after arriving there as a walk-on, Lewis was a significant special teams contributor for Philadelphia -- serving as one of the guys who fly down the field on punt coverage.

"He was very tough as a gunner, for being a skinny kind of piece of gristle," Childress said, referring to Lewis's 185 pounds.

He was traded to New England for two draft picks in March, but the Patriots let him go. Lewis fondly recalled some encouragement he received from Childress after one of his first practices with the Eagles as a rookie.

"I just thought he was a bright-eyed guy. He was not a wow-eyed guy," Childress said. "I thought he had some initial quickness, thought he had good hands. I thought he was smart. I thought he got what we were saying, that he could put it into play. And he made some plays as we went."

Familiarity with this West Coast system should help.

"I'm not going to set a timetable and say tomorrow I'll know it all or three weeks from now I'll know it all," Lewis said. "I'm just going to learn it as quickly as possible and whenever that happens, that will be the time that I'm able to do something."

Berrian wore Wade's No. 19 jersey during pre-practice meetings, though he donned his usual No. 87 on the field. Berrian said the gesture was in honor of his friend, but he also questioned the move.

"He'll probably become a great addition on somebody else's team," Berrian said.


Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press