During the week leading up to the Super Bowl, soon-to-be free agent safety Eric Berry said he would not play 2017 under the franchise tag.
On Tuesday, the Chiefs eliminated the possibility of Berry, the 5-time Pro Bowler, sitting out the upcoming season, by signing him to a 6-year, $78 million deal. With $40 million guaranteed and a $20 million bonus, Berry, coming off a career year in 2016 and two years seasons removed from beating cancer, has the largest contract ever awarded to a safety.
Berry’s contract details include:
- $5 million first year cap hit. It includes a base salary of just $900,000 and a workout bonus of $100,000 (bonus is same in each year).
- $13 million cap number in 2018
- $16.5 million cap number in 2019
- $13.5 million cap number in 2020
- $16 million cap number in 2021
- $14 million in 2022
Berry is the heart and soul of the team, locker room leader and fan favorite. While the franchise continues to wilt under pressure, Berry has risen above the mediocrity that has enveloped the Chiefs and sometimes single-handedly delivers an otherwise boring squad victories. His pick-6’s (and pick-2’s) in road games at Carolina and Atlanta last season speak to his effort and will to win, and while they had no playoff wins to show for it, he continues to grow as a player. Once regarded as a generally poor cover man, Berry is now one of the reasons why the team is so stingy in allowing scores to tight ends, and his run defense is better than some linebackers.
At 28 years old, this deal is all but guarantees Berry will finish his career in Kansas City, which is exactly what he wanted. Unfortunately, one Chiefs legend was denied that right the very same day as KC’s all-time leading rusher, Jamaal Charles, was released. Due just over six million for 2017, he was an obvious candidate for release and his and Nick Foles’ release saved the Chiefs $12 million. He’s played just eight games over the last two years (one snap in the final game he played as a Chief), and with Spencer Ware topping 1,000 scrimmage yards, the writing was on the wall. He reportedly still wants to play, and could latch on to a Super Bowl contender in the coming weeks, and I guess its possible he could come back to Kansas City on a cheap, incentive-based deal. As great as he was for this team, it’s a shame he never won a playoff game, and never had much of a quarterback to support his sometimes other-worldly efforts. Still, the overlooked and undersized Charles set records and left his mark on the league. His career yards per carry is still a NFL record (5.5), and in 2012 he rushed for over two hundred yards twice. The release leaves Dustin Colquitt (drafted in 2006), Tamba Hali (2006), and Derrick Johnson (2005) as the only Chiefs still on the roster pre-2007.
All hopes Chiefs fans had that Dontari Poe would get re-signed went away when the Chiefs surprisingly locked up the French Doctor, guard Laurent-Duvernay Tardif, to a five-year extension worth $35.1 million, and $21 million guaranteed with a $10 million signing bonus. Scheduled to become a free agent next season, the Chiefs knew they needed to retain one of the key cogs in their running game. Not just a solid football player, Tardif is a doctor at McGill University, and studies during the offseason. Now under contract for the next six years, the Chiefs offensive line looks to be together for some time. Tackles Mitchell Schwartz and Eric Fisher are under contract for four more years, and center Mitch Morse has two more years. While the future of the quarterback position may be up in the air, the offensive line certainly is not. Tardif graded third among Chiefs offensive linemen in 2016.
His cap numbers are as follows:
- $2.7M in 2017
- $5.3M in 2018
- $8.2M in 2019
- $9M in 2020
- $9.2M in 2021
- He also has roster bonuses of $500,000 per in 2020, 2021 and 2022, which could amount to $8 million per season, and a $50,000 workout bonus per year from 2018-2022 ($8,500 in 2017).
The Chiefs also passed on placing the franchise tag on Poe. Solid but unspectacular as a run defender, and inconsistent rushing the passer, he could find the market unattractive for an outdated defensive lineman, or someone could over pay, hoping to tap into the player that took the league by storm as a rookie in 2012. With a history of back problems (two surgeries), at 350 pounds, the Chiefs didn’t want to take the chance, although he has missed just four games out of 92 in his career.
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