2:10pm: The Chiefs have officially placed the franchise tag on Berry, tweets Adam Schefter of ESPN.com.
1:15pm: As anticipated, it will be the franchise tag for Berry, tweets Getlin.
12:53pm: The Chiefs intend to use a tag to retain safety Eric Berry in advance of this afternoon’s deadline, reports Rand Getlin of the NFL Network (Twitter link). While Getlin didn’t specify which tag Berry will get, the non-exclusive franchise tag (worth $10.806MM) seems likely. The transition tag ($9.116MM) isn’t much cheaper, and would make the Chiefs much more vulnerable to rival offer sheets.
Berry, who earned Pro Bowl nods in three of his first four NFL seasons, was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma in 2014, raising some doubts about his future in the league. However, the veteran safety was declared cancer-free in 2015 and enjoyed one of his best seasons this past year for the Chiefs.
Appearing in all 16 games for Kansas City in 2015, Berry logged 61 tackles to go along with a pair of interceptions and 10 passes defended. Pro Football Focus ranked the Tennessee product sixth among 88 qualified safeties, and the standout season earned Berry his fourth Pro Bowl berth, along with a spot on the NFL’s All-Pro first team.
The franchise tag will lock up Berry for the coming season, and perhaps longer, as Getlin notes the two sides have interest in working out a longer-term agreement. In the meantime, the Chiefs have plenty of other free agent decisions to make, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. Cornerback Sean Smith, pass rusher Tamba Hali, inside linebacker Derrick Johnson, safety Tyvon Branch, and defensive lineman Jaye Howard are among the other Kansas City defenders eligible for free agency.
Berry is the ninth player who has either been tagged already, or will be tagged by 3:00pm central time. Von Miller (Broncos), Kirk Cousins (Washington), Cordy Glenn (Bills), Alshon Jeffery (Bears), Josh Norman (Panthers), Muhammad Wilkerson (Jets), Justin Tucker (Ravens), and Olivier Vernon (Dolphins) are all expect to be tagged when the dust settles, and there may be one or two more players added to that list — the Rams, for instance, are expected to tag one of their cornerbacks.
Of the players receiving tags, all but Miller (exclusive franchise) and Vernon (transition) are getting non-exclusive franchise tags. All franchised players will have until July 15th to work out multiyear extensions with their respective teams.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.