Eric Berry Reportedly Franchise-Tagged by Chiefs

Tyler ConwayFeatured Columnist

Jan 9, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Kansas City Chiefs free safety Eric Berry (29) celebrates after defeating the Houston Texans in a AFC Wild Card playoff football game at NRG Stadium. Kansas City won 30-0. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

In 2015, Eric Berry returned from a cancer diagnosis and reclaimed his status among the NFL's best safeties. Now, the Kansas City Chiefs have taken measures to ensure the face of their franchise stays right where he's at, applying the franchise tag to their star safety on Tuesday.

Continue for updates.

Berry Gets Non-Exclusive Franchise Tag

Tuesday, March 1

The Chiefs announced Berry received the franchise tag, which will allow them to work on a new contract without letting Berry hit the open market. Adam Schefter of ESPN initially reported the move.

Earlier in the day, Rand Getlin of NFL Network reported the Chiefs planned to tag Berry and that both sides are interested in a long-term contract in the future.

Dorsey Met with Berry's Agent

Thursday, Feb. 25

BJ Kissel of reported Chiefs general manager John Dorsey would meet with Berry's agent during the NFL combine in Indianapolis this week.

Hunt Comments on Berry Negotiations

Saturday, Feb. 6

"Certainly, Eric is somebody that's very important to the franchise," Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt said Friday, per Paylor. "Coach [Andy] Reid and his staff think highly of him. They appreciate the leader that he's become, and obviously personally, he had the amazing year overcoming cancer. We'll do everything we can to try to bring him back."

Berry Crucial to Chiefs After Comeback

A four-time Pro Bowler, Berry returned to the field following treatment for Hodgkin lymphoma and did not miss a beat. He recorded 61 tackles and two interceptions during the regular season, earning Pro Bowl and first-team All-Pro selections.

"I kind of brainwashed myself from the get-go, that was going to be where I was and better throughout the whole process," Berry said in December, per Blair Kerkhoff of the Kansas City Star. "I just kind of started mentally picturing myself where I wanted to be. I focused on that every day and kept striving for it."

The Chiefs won their final 10 regular-season games and an AFC Wild Card Round matchup with the Houston Texans before being eliminated a week later by the New England Patriots.

Their defense ranked third in points against and seventh in yards allowed, with Football Outsiders' DVOA (defense-adjusted value over average) metric ranking it sixth overall. That was a leap from 19th in 2014, a season in which Berry was limited to six games because of an ankle sprain and the cancer diagnosis.

Kansas City paid Berry $50 million over the span of his six-year rookie contract, including a base salary of $5.1 million last season. Franchising Berry would cost the Chiefs more than $9 million next season, a cap number that could be difficult to swing with linebackers Tamba Hali and Derrick Johnson also hitting free agency. The team would prefer to get longer-term deals done with those players, which would keep their cap numbers lower over the next couple of seasons.

The Chiefs are smart to franchise Berry while keeping an eye on an extension.


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