Kansas City Chiefs: Dontari Poe May Be Gone in Favor of Eric Berry

Kansas City Chiefs strong safety Eric Berry. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports
Kansas City Chiefs strong safety Eric Berry. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports /

The Kansas City Chiefs have a conundrum. They probably cannot afford both Dontari Poe and Eric Berry.

The Kansas City Chiefs are most likely going to lose one of two Pro Bowl defensive players. Eric Berry is a five-time Pro Bowl player and has been a three-time First Team All-Pro safety. He is also the heart and soul of the Kansas City defense.

Dontari Poe is a two-time Pro Bowl performer and has only missed two games in his five-year career as the Chiefs’ defensive tackle.

Now, according to Ed Werder of ESPN, if the Chiefs can’t find a way to sign at least one of them soon, they will use the franchise tag on Berry, and let Poe leave via free agency.

Both players have more positive attributes than negative, but Poe is coming off probably his worst season so far.  He recorded just 18 solo tackles, ten below his previous career low of 28 set in his rookie season. He had just 27 total tackles, 11 below his numbers in that first campaign in 2012.

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After notching 1.5 sacks total in 2013 and 2014, Poe has just 2.5 sacks over the past two seasons. His production is going the wrong way, yet durable, successful defensive tackles are not all that common in the NFL. The Chiefs have to weigh if they think Poe can return to his 2013-2014 production and will it be worth the cost.

Berry is a different situation altogether. He returned after battling cancer and put up two All-Pro seasons. Still just 28 years old, Berry could still have several highly productive seasons ahead of him.

The problem with the Chiefs’ plan, as laid out be Werder, is that Berry played under the franchise tag in 2016, and has been vocal about not doing it again.

According to the Kansas City Star, Berry has not changed his stance on this matter.

"“No I haven’t,” said Berry, who played the 2016 season under the $10.8 million franchise tender. “I still stand firm on that.”"

While you have to admire Berry for looking to his long-term future, he would be guaranteed nearly $13 million to play under the franchise tag in 2017. That’s a lot of cheddar!

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Yes, he want’s a long-term contract, but he could still sign one while under the franchise tag.

If the Chiefs are not confident they can sign Berry to a contract, do they take the chance of placing him under the franchise tag? With $13 million dollars guaranteed sitting on the table, is Berry bluffing about sitting out in 2017?

Even if the Chief franchise Berry, and they can’t reach a contractual agreement, and Berry decides to play for Kansas City in 2017, that relationship will probably be broken, and Berry will probably be gone after next season.

The Chiefs’ defense is in transition. Tamba Hali and Derrick Johnson are battling Father Time and injuries. Their days as active players are nearing the end. If Berry and Poe are also close to leaving, the Chiefs are in for some serious rebuilding over the next few years.

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John Dorsey has work to do if he wants his defense to be competitive in 2017. If it isn’t possible to keep both Poe and Berry, he needs to find a find to make Berry happy and get him on the field.

Fans will hate to see Kansas City lose either player, but Berry, in particular, will leave a big void. While it may be easier to replace a safety than a defensive tackle, will it be as easy to replace his leadership and heart?