Before any of us start to feel any feelings, let me remind everyone up front that Kansas City Chiefs star safety Eric Berry was extremely unlikely to reach free agency no matter what happened this week. The 28-year-old, who played the 2016 season under the Franchise Tag, was probably going to get the designation again if a longer-term deal wasn’t worked out.
So, then, with today’s news that Berry has reportedly agreed to a massive six-year, $78 million ($40 million guaranteed) contract, you shouldn’t be bummed about him not reaching free agency, and thus escaping the Bears’ potential clutches. Wasn’t going to happen.
Instead, where today’s news is more intriguing is that, as rumored yesterday, the Berry signing opens up the possibility that the Chiefs could now use the Franchise Tag on 26-year-old defensive tackle Dontari Poe, who was otherwise set to hit free agency as one of the most impactful defensive options on the market. Sure, the Bears have other, more obvious needs on the defensive side of the ball (particularly in the secondary), but it’s not at all unreasonable to suggest that the Bears – like many other teams, admittedly – could have incorporated a talented player on their line, one way or another.
Now, with Berry back in the fold before the Franchise Tag deadline tomorrow, the Chiefs will at least have the option of going that route with Poe … if they can make it work with the salary cap. Things were already fairly tight for the Chiefs, though the structure of Berry’s contract remains to be seen, and they have just released running back Jamaal Charles (Adam Schefter), who was going to count about $6.2 million against the cap in 2017.