After a fantastic, maybe even inspirational comeback season, Eric Berry might be heading into free agency instead of staying with the Kansas City Chiefs, as they just might have too many more important players to keep happy with new contracts.
After making the playoffs, winning in the Wild Card round and losing in the divisional round, the Chiefs have a lot of free agency holes on defense. Tamba Hali, Derrick Johnson, Sean Smith, Jaye Howard and Mike DeVito are all up for re-signing, which could leave Berry, who was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 2014 and was declared clear of cancer nearly nine months after his initial diagnosis, looking for a new team at the perfect time for him.
There have been contract talks between him and the Chiefs, but there doesn’t seem to be any progress so far. Berry made $50 million including bonuses after being drafted 5th overall by the Chiefs in 2010, and is probably looking to become the highest paid safety in the NFL, which means at least $10 million a season, like Earl Thomas from the Seattle Seahawks. Slapping the franchise tag on him, which might be what the Chiefs do eventually, will cost them over $10 million a season.
One way for the Chiefs to try and navigate this situation is offering Berry a long term deal for the money he likes, but with a cap friendly first year. Will he take it? Hard to say. He’s 27, coming off a Pro Bowl and All-Pro season and has all the leverage in the world to demand a $50 million, five or four year contract from teams, and with the salary cap constantly rising, there’s going to be someone out there that pays him. The Chiefs want to retain him, but with other expensive deals to take care of, they might just allow him to test free agency and see how much he’s really worth in the eyes of the league.
Berry played in all 16 games for the Chiefs last season, picking up two interceptions, which he has 10 of in his career. He had his first postseason interception in the wild card win over the Houston Texans (30-0), which was the third time he’s been to the playoffs with the Chiefs.