It is being reported that Kansas City Chiefs star safety Eric Berry will not report to Training Camp with the rest of the team on July 29th.
The Kansas City Chiefs rookies and quarterbacks reported to Training Camp today. As with the rest of the NFL, the veteran players don’t report until four days later, July 29th for the Chiefs.
Even though the report date isn’t here yet, we are already being told by NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport that star safety Eric Berry won’t be there.
For most of the offseason, it was largely expected that the Chiefs would get a deal done with Berry following a very strong season less than a year removed from being diagnosed and treated for non-Hodgkins Lymphoma.
The expectation went as far as the Chiefs CEO, Clark Hunt, making a public statement that the team would do everything possible to get him signed.
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However, General Manager John Dorsey and Berry’s agent Joel Segal were not able to get a deal done, leaving Berry on the one-year Franchise Tag that costs the Chiefs $10.8 million against the salary cap.
This means the Chiefs control the contract rights of Eric Berry for the 2016 season. The other side of this is that Eric Berry still has to sign the Franchise Tag before he is obligated to do anything with the team. That’s where his not showing to camp comes into play.
For Eric Berry, this move makes a lot of sense. As he is not currently under contract with the Chiefs, he does not face any kind of fine or other punishment for not being in camp.
In fact, as long as he is willing to miss out on the money, Eric Berry doesn’t have to sign his tender until Week 11 of the regular season. He only needs to be active for six games to get the accrued season that would clear him from the Franchise Tag.
The Chiefs could use the Franchise Tag on him in 2017 though, as Mike Garrafolo pointed out.
That is a bit of a gamble though. Signing the Franchise Tag late in the season to only be active six games would leave him in a tough spot if he were to get injured. The Chiefs would still control his rights in that case.
There is also the question of his future contract. Any team looking to sign him will want to see he is still fully healthy. Not many players come back from cancer, so teams will be leery.
However, there is a bit of glimmer of hope in all of this. I asked former NFL executive Andrew Brandt to clarify a technical detail, and it works to the Chiefs favor. As Berry has not yet signed his Franchise Tag, the Chiefs can still rescind it and sign him to a long-term deal.
That would require them to negotiate against all teams, but it is hard to see the Chiefs making that move without a deal already set up in principle. It is a possible move, though the Chiefs could still be gun shy after the Emmanuel Sanders fiasco.
This also comes as Andy Reid told reporters today that he expects everything will work out with Eric Berry. That was a thought that seemed to be echoed by a couple other players who were asked about it.
So while this appears to be bad news on the surface of things, it could end up playing out well. Time will tell, but the Chiefs certainly have to be concerned about the future of the safety position at this point.