This conversation begins and ends with Eric Berry.
I will start this section off with a comment that will either entice you to read the rest of the article, or you’re going to find something different to read. I don’t believe Eric Berry will be back with the Chiefs in 2016.
Does that mean I don’t want him back or don’t believe he’s a good player? No. However, the question simply is does Berry’s play, at the non-premium position of safety, warrant major money when that money could be spent at more premium positions? It’s a tough question, and it’s a tough position for John Dorsey and this front office.
Berry is coming off his rookie contract in which during the past six years, Berry has posted four Pro Bowls and two All-Pro selections. We all know this, as well as the reasons why Berry was not selected to Pro Bowls in his second and fifth year in the league. He’s a great person, he’s a leader and a solid human being. However, in sports, you pay a person largely for what they do within the lines.
Do you make Berry the highest paid safety in football? Before taking the draft class into account (probably between $4 and $5 million) and if you can get a new contract done with Tamba Hali (his contract voids on March 4, leaving $3 million in dead cap money), Kansas City has $33 million dollars in cap space.
Because the Chiefs have paid a pile of money if previous offseasons to Justin Houston, Alex Smith, Jeremy Maclin and others, the Chiefs actually are eighth in the league in terms of commitments to the 2017 season. Keeping Berry could make the 2017 offseason a dicey one, especially considering Dontari Poe and Travis Kelce will be free agents next season, along with Eric Fisher having a $10.5 million option.
Keeping Berry could legitimately impact the organizations ability to keep Poe, Kelce, and could have an impact the return Jamaal Charles.
For those who listed to the afternoon 610 AM show with Danny Parkins and Carrington Harrington on Wednesday, they spoke to Joel Corry, a former NFL agent who now analyses salaries and free agency. His prediction for an Eric Berry contract, in general terms, is $9.5 million per season with at least $25 million guaranteed.
If that’s the case, the Chiefs should allow Berry to take his talents elsewhere. They should turn their attention to Husain Abdullah and Tyvon Branch, whom are both good at the same position and would be reliable for a fraction of the cost of Berry. If Berry wants $9 million or more a season, it would be financially prudent to allow him to walk.
If the Chiefs want to address safety depth/starter in the draft, there are plenty of options, though likely few names in the first round. A few names to keep an eye on.
- Darian Thompson, Boise State (6-foot-2/210)
- Jeremy Cash, Duke (6 foot-1/208)
- Vonn Bell, Ohio State (5-foot-11/205)
I’m a fan of Thompson. Big enough to play either safety spot and would be nice depth. Cash and Bell are more Berry-type, in-the-box players who are strong in the run game. I’d guess all three players will go in the second or third round, and we’ll see whom would be available.