Chiefs safety Eric Berry has suffered a ruptured Achilles, meaning his 2017 season is now over, head coach Andy Reid confirmed to reporters, including Terez A. Paylor of the Kansas City Star (Twitter link).
The news doesn’t come as a complete surprise, as Reid indicated late last night that the Chiefs were expecting the worst. But it’s still a blow for both Berry and Kansas City, as the 28-year-old is not only an excellent defensive back (as evidenced by his erasing tight end Rob Gronkowski during the Chiefs’ surprise victory over the Patriots on Thursday), but also one of the club’s emotional leaders on and off the field.
Berry played a full 16-game season in 2016 and posted four interceptions, nine passes defensed, and one forced fumble. He graded out as the NFL’s No. 8 safety, per Pro Football Focus, which handed Berry top marks for pass coverage. In February, he re-signed with the Chiefs on a six-year, $78MM deal that made him the league’s highest-paid safety.
The Chiefs do have depth at safety, but clearly don’t have any players that can hope to replicate Berry’s production. Veteran Daniel Sorensen and 2016 fourth-rounder Eric Murray are candidates to take on more snaps, while Kansas City could speculatively re-sign defensive back Steven Terrell, whom the club released during final cutdowns. Other free agent safeties available on the open market include Will Blackmon, Jairus Byrd, Dwight Lowery, and Robert Blanton.
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