Eric Berry doesn’t deserve a blank check from the Chiefs
By Britt Zank
Eric Berry deserves a new contract from the Kansas City Chiefs but it needs to make financial sense.
Since last offseason, the majority of Chiefs fans I see discussing Eric Berry say the team has to sign him. They don’t say they want them to, or that it is in the best interest of the team. They say the Chiefs have to give the safety a blank check, because the team can’t compete at the same level without him.
There have been three players in the last 10 years that I have heard the same talk about: Larry Johnson, Dwayne Bowe and Justin Houston. All three were thought by most fans as players the Chiefs had to sign no matter what. Yet a trip down memory lane shows that it wasn’t the case, at least with all three.
Larry Johnson was one of the best running backs in football in 2006. When he chose to held out for more money in 2007, fans screamed to pay him. The Chiefs went 9-7 in 2006, losing to the Colts in the playoffs. The city believed that the team would take a major step back without LJ, who had rushed for over 1,700 yards in back-to-back seasons. The Chiefs caved and signed Johnson to a six year, $45 million contract extension — a then-record high for running backs. He proceeded to rush for only 1,810 yards the next three seasons combined before getting cut.
More from Arrowhead Addict
- Multiple Chiefs execs mentioned as strong GM candidates in 2024
- Former Chiefs cornerback in legal trouble in Las Vegas
- Chiefs Kingdom: Get ready to break contract news
- Chiefs news: Travis Kelce wants to host fan ‘chug-off’ in Germany
- Podcast: Breaking down the Chiefs biggest roster battles
Dwayne Bowe was the only receiving weapon the Chiefs had following the disastrous 2012 season, and every radio show and fan on social media was concerned about the lack of weapons. New quarterback Matt Cassel needed someone to throw to, and the Chiefs absolutely had to sign Bowe. The Chiefs agreed and made Bowe the third highest-paid receiver in the league when they signed him to a five-year, $56 million deal. Bowe only played two seasons for the Chiefs after that contract, catching only 117 passes total for 1,400 yards and 5 touchdowns. He was out of the league entirely after one single away from the Chiefs — with the Cleveland Browns.
Justin Houston recorded 22 sacks in 2014, a single half sack away from Michael Strahan’s NFL record for sacks in a season. Once again, I heard the Chiefs had to sign Houston no matter the cost. They couldn’t let one of the best pass rushers in the league walk away. After tagging him, they signed Houston to a six-year $101 million deal, making him the first $100 million player in Chiefs history. A few months after he signed, Houston suffered a knee injury and required surgery. In the process, Houston missed almost all the 2016 season, and in the ensuing two years, Houston has played 16 games and recorded only 11.5 sacks.
I’m not saying these players didn’t all deserve new contracts. The question is whether the Chiefs should have given them as much as they did. I don’t believe any player should have a blank check unless they are a top ten quarterback. Players who have question marks on their records should bring even more caution to the negotiation table. Johnson was coming off two seasons where he averaged almost 400 carries per year. That is a lot of wear and tear on a running back. Bowe was a head case with an inconsistent history on the field. Houston had a bit of an injury history — nothing as bad as his knee, of course, but it was there. All three were also coming off great contract seasons, which is always something to watch carefully.
While [Eric] Berry is a great player and a franchise icon, you have to admit there are flaws.
Eric Berry is one of the leaders of this team, and a lot of people say he’s the heart and soul of it. He is a great on the field player with a read and react ability in the run game that only Derrick Johnson can rival. He’s alslo a fan favorite and would be missed not only on the field but in the community. In other words, the Chiefs should sign Berry to a deal.
Berry isn’t perfect though; he has question marks. Despite his improvements this season, he can still present a liability in coverage. He also comes with injury concerns after missing a season with a torn ACL. His hard-hitting style of play also means that concussions and further injury risks are a possibility, which also needs to be added to the risk of his cancer returning. While Berry is a great player and a franchise icon, you have to admit there are flaws.
Berry has said he wants to stay in Kansas City, so let’s see if he backs that up. He should not be the highest paid safety in the league; he has too many issues for that. The Chiefs also can’t afford to pay him at that level, as they do not have the cap space. The Chiefs showed great loyalty to Berry with all they did during his battle with cancer. They helped make Berry a hero in KC. It’s time Berry backs up his words and stays without hamstringing the franchise.