As expected, Andy Reid didn’t do much prioritizing when it came to pinpointing which of the Chiefs‘ free agents will return, but he did single out the one likely residing at the top of the itinerary.
“I think he wants to be here. We want him to be here. The agents and our people need to get with him, they’ll deal with all that, work through all that. But I like Eric Berry. I can tell you, I love Eric Berry,” Reid told media, including Dave Skretta of the Associated Press.
Berry will be the top safety on the market and one of the top players available as an unrestricted free agent. The Pro Bowl safety played out his entire rookie contract, a six-year deal worth $60MM, from the old CBA that was much friendlier to first-round selections.
“Obviously,” Berry told media, when asked if he wants to return to the Chiefs. “This is family. At the same time, we’ll sit down and talk about it when we talk about it. But right now I’m just thankful for my teammates, my coaches and everybody that has something to do with me being back on the field this year. This is something special.”
The Chiefs could have their franchise tag ready if talks with the 27-year-old cancer survivor stall. The remainder of the Chiefs’ free agent class includes a number of expiring deals from their top-flight defense. Sean Smith, Derrick Johnson, Tamba Hali and Jaye Howard are free agents.
Kansas City possess $31.62MM in salary cap space, according to OverTheCap.
Here is the latest coming out of the Western divisions.
- Hali’s path may lead to retirement or back to Kansas City, with Skretta noting it’s unlikely the 32-year-old outside linebacker will head elsewhere. The former first-round pick and career Chief told media after the Chiefs’ loss to the Patriots he would contemplate his future after spending most of this season not practicing due to knee trouble. Hali renegotiated his deal last season to help Kansas City with its cap. Of course, with the Chiefs having some lucrative free agents to consider retaining in hopes of keeping that strong defense intact, Hali’s third Chiefs contract won’t be nearly as hefty as the five year, $60MM deal he signed in 2011. Though Hali, a Pro Bowler this season and a top-10 edge player as graded by Pro Football Focus, could still command a reasonable accord on the open market if he sought such a path. “I know some of these (free agents) are going to return. That’s how it rolls. Which ones and how it works into the (salary) cap and all that, that’s (GM John) Dorsey‘s baby there,” Reid said.
- The Chiefs will have their lowest first-round pick in 20 years after their 11-5 season ended in the divisional playoffs. They will pick 28th, lowest of the teams eliminated this weekend, according to Darin Gantt of Pro Football Talk. The Steelers, Seahawks and Packers will pick 25th, 26th and 27th, respectively, based on a schedule strength tiebreaker.
- Bruce Irvin told media, including Sheil Kapadia of ESPN.com, he will take less money on his second contract to stay with the Seahawks. Irvin said both John Schneider and Pete Carroll asked him if he’d accept a below-market deal Monday. “Pete and John asked me that when I met with them today. If it came to that, I would definitely come back. $3, $4 million? $3, $4, $5 million? I would definitely come back because I’m established here,” Irvin said. The Seahawks did not pick up Irvin’s fifth-year option last year, making the edge-rusher an unrestricted free agent. The January gesture may not hold a lot of weight come March, per Joel Corry of CBSSports.com, who tweets Irvin’s agent, Joel Segal, won’t be interested in seeing Irvin take a hometown discount after he pushed the Chiefs to give Justin Houston a record deal last summer. Russell Okung, Jeremy Lane and Jermaine Kearse are among the Seahawks’ notable UFAs, with Marshawn Lynch‘s $6.5MM in cap savings likely to benefit toward this cause as well.
- Carroll told media, including Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times, he’d like to bring back Christine Michael, a UFA who bounced around this year before re-signing with Seattle. Michael averaged 4.9 yards per carry with the Seahawks and 3.4 per rush with the Cowboys this season.
- Stan Kroenke is borrowing approximately $1 billion from JPMorgan Chase for his new Inglewood stadium, Daniel Kaplan of Sports Business Daily tweets. The stadium’s expected to cost a record $2.7 billion, and Kroenke’s $1 billion loan would represent one of the largest ever taken for a stadium, according to Elyse Glickman of the Los Angeles Business Journal.