The Chiefs have released Eric Berry, the club announced today.
“I’d like to thank Eric for his contributions to our team and the Kansas City community over the last nine years,” head coach Andy Reid said. “Seeing his passion and watching his love for the game has been truly remarkable. He’s a special person, and we wish him the best as his career moves forward.”
Berry, 30, was widely expected to be cut after Kansas City inked fellow safety Tyrann Mathieu to a three-year, $42MM. The two defensive backs could have complemented each other in the Chiefs’ secondary, but most teams are simply reluctant to spent an exorbitant amount of cap and cash on a single positional group.
Berry signed a six-year, $78MM extension with the Chiefs in 2017, and that deal had kept him as the NFL’s highest-paid safety until Landon Collins topped him earlier this week. Kansas City will designate Berry as a post-June 1 release (Twitter link via Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk), meaning it will take on $6.95MM in dead money this year and $8MM in 2020. The Chiefs will see $9.55MM in cap relief, but they won’t receive that until this summer.
A terrific safety when on the field, Berry has been limited by health issues throughout his career. In five of his nine pro seasons, Berry has failed to play more than five games. He’s been available for only three total regular season contests over the past two years after rupturing his Achilles in September 2017. In spite of that, Berry doesn’t plan to undergo offseason surgery to correct his nagging heel concerns.
Berry’s market will be one to watch in the coming weeks, as the safety position has mostly been picked over in free agency. That should leave Berry as one of the more attractive options still available, but it also means many clubs have already filled their safety void. Given his injury history, it won’t be a surprise if the three-time All-Pro is forced to settle for a one-year deal.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.