EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Erin Henderson’s off-field troubles seem to have cost him his spot on the Minnesota Vikings.
Minnesota released Henderson, its second-leading tackler last season, Friday. Henderson, who signed a two-year, $4 million contract last offseason, was arrested twice for DWI in the span of six weeks.
The latest incident for Henderson came Jan. 1, when he was arrested and booked into jail for a second-degree count of DWI test refusal, fourth-degree DWI, third-degree DWI and a fourth charge of violating limited driver’s license conditions.
The Vikings released a statement at the time, saying, "We are aware of the matter involving Erin Henderson. We are continuing to gather information and will have further comment at the appropriate time."
Minnesota waited to take action with Henderson though.
The NFL waiver process started again this week after the Super Bowl, the opening for the Vikings to release Henderson with fewer repercussions against the 2014 salary cap. Henderson will count as $250,000 of dead money against the cap as part of his $500,000 signing bonus last season.
When contacted by FOX Sports North, Henderson said he didn’t want to talk about his release at the present time.
Henderson, 27, dealt with a personal issue during the season and spent a week away from the team. It was later revealed Henderson was arrested on Nov. 19 for probable cause DWI and possession of a controlled substance, but wasn’t charged and subsequently filed a lawsuit against the state.
The St. Paul Pioneer Press first reported that Henderson is suing the state’s Department of Public Safety to retain his driver’s license, which was revoked after Henderson registered a blood-alcohol level of 0.11. Anyone registering 0.08 or higher is considered legally impaired by state law.
"You know, it was eye-opening, honestly," Henderson said after returning to the team in November. "It was a wake-up call for me and, honestly, it may be something that I needed in the long run; something I think will help me progress and become the person I’m capable of being and the man that I want to be."
Asked why the situation might have been something he needed, Henderson responded: "You want to progress. You want to get better. You want to mature. You want to grow up and you want to do things a certain way. But sometimes you can’t get out of your own way.
"But I think something like this will give me the opportunity to really step back and look in the mirror and look at my reflection and become happier with the person that I am, and the person that I know I can become. And like I said, I’ve been given a lot of great tools and a lot of resources by the program and by the organization here, something I’m very thankful for. I look forward to showing you guys the improvements of myself."
In January, Henderson was the driver and sole occupant of a black SUV, which had "skidded over the centerline, through a grassy area, and then through the parking lot before colliding with trees on the west side of the parking lot," according to a statement released then by the Carver County Sheriff’s office.
The statement said Henderson was not injured during the crash, but appeared to be under the influence of alcohol and was arrested after "performing poorly during standardized field sobriety testing." According to the statement, Henderson was also in possession of a small amount of marijuana and drug paraphernalia.
Henderson posted $12,000 bail and was released, with a court appearance set for March 3.
Henderson was the third Vikings’ player arrested in a span of 11 days in November. Receiver Jerome Simpson, a pending free agent, was arrested and charged with two counts of DWI. Cornerback A.J. Jefferson was arrested and charged domestic assault and was released by the team shortly after being arrested.
Henderson, who was set to earn $1.95 million in 2014 as part of his two-year contract, lost his starting job as the team’s middle linebacker following the November arrest. He had moved to the middle in Minnesota’s 4-3 defense after two seasons as a starter at outside linebacker.
Second-year player Audie Cole took Henderson’s starting spot on the inside, but Henderson returned to the starting lineup for the final two games on the outside. He finished second on the team in tackles this season with 112 tackles. He had four sacks and two interceptions.