Discussions between the Chiefs and Eric Berry are ongoing and will likely persist until Wednesday’s deadline for teams to apply the franchise tag to players. But the three-time All-Pro safety isn’t exactly optimistic a long-term deal is coming by then.
“I’m just being patient because you never know,” Berry said, via Adam Teicher of ESPN.com. “I’m not getting my hopes up.”
As for Berry’s vow not to play a second season as a franchised-tagged performer, the 28-year-old defender stands by it, he told Teicher. Berry confirmed, via Terez Paylor of the Kansas City Star (Twitter link), talks between his agent and Chiefs management are continuing. And team chairman Clark Hunt said “both sides want to get it done.”
The Chiefs’ end of the dialogue doesn’t differ much from last year, when the sides couldn’t come close to agreeing on a long-term pact. But Berry’s does, as does Kansas City’s situation.
Berry is a year older but is coming off probably his best season, which saw him return two interceptions for pivotal touchdowns en route to joining Earl Thomas as the only active safeties with three first-team All-Pro distinctions. The former first-rounder also could have a higher compensation target, given Tyrann Mathieu‘s six-year deal ($12.5MM AAV) that was signed after the Chiefs and Berry’s 2016 talks ceased. Berry, who played on his rookie deal from 2010-15, earned $10.86MM on the tag last year. Another Berry tag would cost the Chiefs $12.967MM.
While Berry won’t be happy if he’s tagged by Wednesday, depriving him of another chance to venture onto the free agent market in his 20s, but the Chiefs have until July 15 reach an agreement with their cornerstone defender. However, tagging Berry this week means Dontari Poe stands to become a free agent, assuming no long-term deal occurs between the Chiefs and their perennial starting nose tackle.
Kansas City is projected to have just $5.1MM in cap space, and although the team can shed nearly $17MM more by cutting Jamaal Charles and declining Nick Foles‘ 2017 option, it could still be a tight squeeze.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.