AFC West Notes: Chiefs, Gates, Broncos

The Chiefs will probably put the franchise tag on defensive tackle Dontari Poe in 2017 while working to lock up Eric Berry on a long-term deal, Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com opines. Berry, a cancer survivor, is in the midst of a tremendous season as he plays out his one-year franchise tender.

Over the summer, the odds of Berry staying in Kansas City didn’t seem strong. Now, one has to imagine that the Chiefs will do everything in their power to retain him. Using the franchise tag on Berry for a second straight year would be costly and they would be better off using it on Poe and delaying a long-term contract with him.

Berry would be owed $12.96MM if the Chiefs again place the franchise tag on him, and Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk points out should the Chiefs balk at meeting the soon-to-be 28-year-old safety’s asking price, he notes other teams would, mentioning Berry’s hometown Falcons as one who might. Kansas City stands to be one of the most cap-strapped teams in the league in 2017, so navigating the Poe/Berry situation will be difficult.

Here’s more from the AFC West as the division’s biggest game of the season approaches.

  • Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles is doing well, working hard, and hopeful to be back for the playoffs, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. The ninth-year running back is eligible to come off IR in Week 17. The Chiefs can be in much better position to score a playoff bye — which would be their first since 2003 — if they can navigate past the Raiders tonight. That would give Charles an extra week in his quest to make a comeback and likely return as a change-of-pace back behind Spencer Ware.
  • Antonio Gates is signed through the 2017 season but hasn’t decided whether or not he’ll come back for a 14th campaign. The 36-year-old tight end said the Chargers being a viable AFC West contender will determine that but does expect that to happen, per Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune. “My thing when I decide [whether to play another season] is, ‘Do we have a legitimate chance?’” Gates said. “I feel like we have a legitimate chance. I know the cliche. But I’m saying, legitimately, we should have a chance. Top to bottom, what we we’re going to be able to do, what we’re still able to do now even with the guys we’ve lost. I feel like in my heart we have a chance to win a Super Bowl next year. I feel like I deserve that. That’s what I want.” Currently 5-7 and en route to a second consecutive last-place West finish, San Diego’s lost numerous players to injuries for a second straight year, Gates missing multiple games earlier this season. Gates is in the decline phase of his career but has remained one of Philip Rivers‘ auxiliary targets, hauling in 34 passes for 327 yards and five touchdowns.
  • Brandon Marshall reinjured his left hamstring during the second half of the Broncos‘ win over the Jaguars, and Troy Renck of Denver7 notes growing signs are pointing to the team’s top non-rush linebacker missing Sunday’s game against the Titans. Recently signed to a four-year, $32MM extension, Marshall became the most notable investment in an inside linebacker in nearly a decade. He missed a game Denver lost earlier this season, against the Chargers in October. Former seventh-round pick Corey Nelson would be in line to start if Marshall sits.
  • Some players Broncos worked out three futures-contract candidates on Tuesday: center Michael Brewster and guards Reese Dismukes and Cyril Lemon (Twitter link via Renck).

Dallas Robinson contributed to this report

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