Eric Berry

Eric Berry, Tre Boston On Browns’ Radar

The Browns made a rather notable trade earlier this month, and it left them without one of their starting safeties. While there is another former safety starter on Cleveland’s roster, Derrick Kindred, John Dorsey appears interested in upgrading the position.

Dorsey has spoken with the agents of Eric Berry and Tre Boston, the second-year GM said Monday (via the Akron Beacon Journal’s Nate Ulrich, on Twitter).

Both players have long-term connections with key Browns personnel. Berry played for Dorsey in Kansas City for four seasons and negotiated his then-safety-record contract with the then-Chiefs GM in 2017. New Cleveland DC Steve Wilks coached Boston in Arizona last season and for three seasons in Carolina.

Having made the decision to continue his career, despite having missed 29 regular-season games over the past two seasons, Berry visited the Cowboys last week. A few teams reached out to Boston earlier in free agency, but the five-year veteran did not expect to sign soon.

Boston yet again has seen his free agency start slowly. He was a key member of the higher-end safety group that oddly lingered unattached for months before accepting basement-level deals. Boston played for a $1MM base salary last season in Arizona. The Chiefs released the injury-prone Berry, 30, earlier this month. Prior to running into significant injury trouble, Berry landed on three All-Pro first teams. Boston, 26, became a full-time Cardinals starter despite a late-offseason arrival. He has eight interceptions over the past two seasons.

Cleveland has made big moves and figures to enter this season with the most hype a Browns 2.0 team has, given the team’s additions of Odell Beckham Jr., Olivier Vernon and Sheldon Richardson and last season’s seven-win showing. And Dorsey appears interested in exploring another high-profile move.

Peppers started for two seasons, joining Damarious Randall last year. Randall remains under contract. So does Kindred, a 2017 starter. But with some high-profile talent connected to the current staff still available, this figures to be a situation to monitor.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Eric Berry To Visit Cowboys

Former Chiefs safety Eric Berry is visiting the Cowboys tomorrow, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (via Twitter). After a long-rumored reunion of sorts with Earl Thomas never came to fruition, Dallas is still in the market for safety help, and the club is looking at another former First Team All-Pro.

Berry, 30, was cut by Kansas City after the Chiefs inked fellow safety Tyrann Mathieu to a lucrative free agent contract. Berry has always been a terrific player, but he has had difficulty staying on the field 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, but in spite of that, Berry doesn’t plan to undergo offseason surgery to correct his nagging heel concerns.

That is enough to give any team pause, but the Cowboys need a safety and may see Berry as a worthwhile gamble. The club met with Clayton Geathers earlier today, and while there is probably room in the defensive backfield to add both talented but injury-plagued talents, that is not an especially likely scenario.

This marks Berry’s first scheduled visit since he was cut.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

DB Notes: Berry, Dennard, Poole, Jets

Let’s take a look at the latest on the free agent defensive back market:

  • After being released by the Chiefs, safety Eric Berry has no plans to retire, tweets Terez A. Paylor of Yahoo Sports. Although he’s just 30 years old, Berry has only appeared in three games over the past two seasons while dealing with an Achilles injury, so it’s fair to wonder about his future. In five of his nine pro campaigns, Berry has failed to play in more than five games. Still, he’s been a highly effective player when on the field, so he should find a market, even if it means accepting a one-year deal.
  • The Bengals are willing to retain slot cornerback Darqueze Dennard, but it must be at their teams, as Paul Dehner Jr. of the Cincinnati Enquirer writes. Cincinnati is comfortable offering Dennard a multi-year deal at around $8.5MM, the same rate at which he was paid in 2018 under the terms of his fifth-year option. That’s largely in line with the going rate for slot corners this offseason. Justin Coleman received $9MM annually from the Lions, while the top slot CB — former Bear Bryce Callahan — has yet to sign.
  • Free agent cornerback Brian Poole has a meeting lined up with the Jets, reports Josina Anderson of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Poole has plenty of experience, as he played on at least 60% of the Falcons’ defensive snaps in each of the past three season. Despite that, Atlanta chose not to tender him as a restricted free agent, largely because he ranked near the bottom of the league in nearly every advanced corner metric. New York is searching for a slot replacement after Buster Skrine signed with the Bears.

Chiefs Release Eric Berry

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.

DB Notes: Roby, Boston, Berry

Earlier today, the Texans agreed to sign former Broncos cornerback Bradley Roby to a one-year, $10MM deal. It sounds like the 27-year-old may have left some longer deals on the table, as the defensive back told Mike Klis of 9News in Denver that he turned down a three-year offer from the Steelers and a one-year offer from the 49ers. Roby said that the Browns were also in the mix (Twitter link).

“It’s a prove it deal,” Roby explained. “I feel like I should go back in (the market) while I’m still young.”

Roby left Denver after spending five years with the organization, and it sounds like the veteran holds a bit of a grudge against his former team.

“It’s a business. Denver didn’t want me, they wanted someone else,” Roby said, with the cornerback referring to the team’s acquisition of Kareem Jackson (Twitter link). “No, they tried to word it nice – they were talking about it but they didn’t offer. They got the guy they wanted.”

Let’s check out some more notes revolving around the league’s defensive backs…

  • Free agent safety Tre Boston doesn’t expect to sign a deal right away, with the 26-year-old telling ESPN’s Josina Anderson that he expects to be in the “second wave” of safety signings (Twitter link). Boston said that three teams have already reached out to express preliminary interest, including the Raiders. However, following the team’s agreement with Lamarcus Joyner, it’s uncertain if they’ll still have interest. Boston spent the 2018 campaign with the Cardinals, compiling 79 tackles, nine passes defended, and three interceptions.
  • Could the Chiefs signing of Tyrann Mathieu spell the end of Eric Berry‘s tenure with the organization? Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio thinks so, as the writer can’t envision the organization paying a combined $27MM for the two players. Considering Berry’s recent injury issues, this isn’t a particularly hot take, but it’s worth noting that the Chiefs will have to make a decision relatively soon. As Florio tweets, another $7.25 million of Berry’s contract will become guaranteed on March 15th.
  • A number of safeties earned large paydays yesterday, which was a significant difference from last offseason. CBS Sports’ Brady Quinn explained why safeties were the bigger winner during the NFL’s first day of the legal tampering period.

Eric Berry Won’t Undergo Offseason Surgery

Eric Berry missed most of the past two seasons, being sidelined for much of 2018 because of a painful heel issue. But the Chiefs’ plan for their All-Pro safety evidently does not include surgery.

The 30-year-old defender is not slated to undergo an offseason procedure to address his nagging heel concern, Andy Reid said (via Brooke Pryor of the Kansas City Star, on Twitter).

Surgery is sometimes recommended for people dealing with Haglund’s deformity, but for the time being, it looks like Berry will attempt to shake this persistent problem with rest and rehab. He returned for the Chiefs late in the season and was on the field for pivotal snaps against the Patriots in the AFC championship game. But Berry has not been himself since Week 1 of the 2017 season, when a season-ending Achilles injury sidetracked his career.

Thanks to signing the former top-five pick to a safety-record contract back in 2017, the Chiefs have Berry under contract through 2022. Kansas City had issues in its secondary throughout last season, Berry’s injury chief among them.

The Chiefs, who were interested in Earl Thomas before he was lost for the season, likely will attempt to upgrade at this position this offseason. Berry has dealt with this heel condition for nearly two years, though his Achilles injury damaged his other foot. He is set to take up $16MM of Kansas City’s 2019 cap.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Eric Berry Likely To Need Offseason Surgery

Though he is slated to return to the field for today’s AFC Championship matchup with the Patriots, Chiefs safety Eric Berry is likely headed for offseason surgery on his heel, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport tweets

Sidelined by the injury for the majority of the season, the three-time First Team All-Pro selection has been limited to just two games this season and hasn’t played since a Week 16 tilt vs. the Seahawks. He will give it a go today, however, hoping to fight through the pain to deliver Kansas City to the Super Bowl for the first time since the 1969 season.

Earlier in the season, Berry was diagnosed with a Haglund’s deformity in the achilles. NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo gave a synopsis of the issue in late September:

“He’s got what’s called a Haglund’s deformity in that Achilles,” Garafolo said. “That’s a bone spur that basically digs into the Achilles. Shaun O’ Hara, our colleague at NFL Network, he had it. I spoke to him this week. He said it is extremely painful. He actually used a more colorful word that I won’t use here.”

Should he undergo the surgery, a timetable for his recovery will be available at a later date.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Titans, Roman, Kingsbury

Matt LaFleur‘s defection to Green Bay leaves Tennessee without an offensive coordinator. They have not conducted any known interviews and are operating deliberately. GM Jon Robinson and Mike Vrabel have met several times this week discussing what the best course of action should be, so interviews are likely coming soon. Whichever way the Titans go, they will be asking Marcus Mariota to learn a fourth offensive system in his five-year career. Ken Whisenhunt ran the Titans’ offense in 2015, before being fired, then Mike Mularkey took over before giving way to LaFleur. Robinson appears to want to retain some of LaFleur’s concepts, however.

I think if that can happen so that there is some carry-over, some familiarity there, so that not just Marcus but all of our players on offense, the less that we have to put on their plate to learn the different terminology, the different concepts, if there’s carry-over, then I think they can build upon what they’ve kind of gone through the last year,” Robinson said, via Eric Bacharach of The Tennesseean. “So we’ll do our best to try to keep as much continuity as possible carrying over into the offseason and certainly into next season.”

Here is the latest from the AFC:

  • Eric Berry, Spencer Ware and Malik Hooker are out for today’s ChiefsColts divisional-round game. Berry is still dealing with the heel trouble that has sidetracked his career, and Ware is out with a hamstring malady. Hooker started against the Texans but missed practice this week with a foot ailment.
  • The Ravens’ Greg Roman promotion partially stemmed from ensuring he would not accept another OC role in the AFC East. The Dolphins sought the former Bills offensive coordinator for their OC role, Albert Breer of SI.com tweets. HC frontrunner Brian Flores had Roman on his staff list. Another name to pop up on Flores’ early list: Kliff Kingsbury. The now-Cardinals HC appears to have had a path to Miami as Flores’ play-caller, Breer adds (on Twitter). But despite his sub-.500 Texas Tech record, Kingsbury received a much bigger promotion than the Dolphins had in mind.
  • Jets staffer Tyler Tettleton will join the Browns as an offensive quality control coach, per Bruce Feldman of Fox Sports (on Twitter). Tettleton was a graduate assistant at Oklahoma for two years during Baker Mayfield‘s tenure in Norman.

Injury Notes: Watkins, Berry, Chiefs, Cowboys

Chiefs wide receiver Sammy Watkins is expected to play in today’s divisional playoff game against the Colts, reports ESPN’s Adam Schefter (via Twitter). The wideout was listed as questionable with a foot injury.

The 25-year-old had only appeared in a single game since injuring his foot in Week 9, but he was able to practice throughout the week. When healthy, Watkins has managed to play a relatively big role in the Chiefs offense. In 10 games (nine starts) this season, the receiver had hauled in 40 receptions for 519 yards and three touchdowns.

With Watkins back in the mix, Chris Conley and Kelvin Benjamin will find themselves sliding down the depth chart.

Let’s take a look at some more injury notes from around the NFL…

  • While Watkins is set to play today, it sounds like one of his teammates will not. NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport tweets that Chiefs safety Eric Berry isn’t likely to play today against the Colts. The veteran has been dealing with injuries throughout the season, with a heel ailment being his latest issue. After playing in only one regular season game in 2017, the 30-year-old has been limited to only a pair of games in 2018, compiling 11 tackles. If there’s any silver lining, the Chiefs were reportedly preparing for Berry to miss today’s contest, as they adjusted their defensive packages to not include the veteran (via NFL.com’s Adam Maya).
  • The Cowboys are “cautiously optimistic” that both wideout Cole Beasley and tight end Blake Jarwin will be ready to play in tonight’s playoff matchup against the Rams, tweets Rapoport. Neither player practiced this week, and they’re both listed as questionable. However, Schefter tweets that the plan is for “both to work out pregame and both be active.” Beasley, who has been dealing with an ankle injury, had one of his best offensive seasons in 2017, compiling 65 catches for 672 yards and three touchdowns. Meanwhile, Jarwin emerged late in the season, including a Week 17 contest where he had seven receptions for 119 yards and three scores.
  • We heard last night that Colts receiver Ryan Grant and defensive end Tyquan Lewis will not suit up for today’s matchup against the Chiefs.

Injury Notes: Brown, Wallace, Berry, Bolts

As the Steelers enter their must-win (plus-help-required) Week 17 scenario, their best player is not certain to be available. Antonio Brown missed three practices this week and is questionable for Sunday’s game against the Bengals. The four-time All-Pro is undergoing tests on his injured knee, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com tweets. Brown has not missed a game this season. While Pittsburgh would be favored to beat Cincinnati at home without Brown, two-time reigning AFC North champions have not exactly been bastions of consistency this season or in recent years. The Steelers can clinch their fifth straight playoff berth with a win and a Ravens home loss to the Browns.

Here’s the latest on the injury front, shifting to one of Brown’s former teammates:

  • Although the Eagles surprisingly brought Mike Wallace back onto their 53-man roster without the usual IR-return practice routine, the deep threat will not play against the Redskins on Sunday. Philadelphia declared Wallace out because of his ankle injury, making the team’s move to activate him strictly for the playoffs. To make the playoffs, Philadelphia needs to beat Washington and have Chicago stop Minnesota. Wallace is not signed past this season, so it’s now possible he will end his Eagles tenure having played in only two games.
  • The Chargers are assured of a playoff spot, making a possible Hunter Henry cameo more likely. It might occur as soon as next week. Tom Telesco did not rule out his top tight end being ready to return before a possible wild-card game, per Eric Williams of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Henry participated in seven-on-seven drills with the Bolts on Friday, Williams tweets, doing so after being confined to individual work last week. The Chargers designated Henry to return from IR on Dec. 17, so they have until the divisional round — if their season extends that far — to make a call on Henry.
  • Eric Berry cannot shake his troublesome heel ailment. The three-time All-Pro Chiefs safety continues to battle this issue, Andy Reid said, via the Kansas City Star’s Brooke Pryor (on Twitter). Berry has been on a snap count (99 in two games) since making his season debut in Week 15, and Reid did not commit to Berry playing Sunday against the Raiders.
  • Ahead of the Texans‘ pivotal Week 17 game, Lamar Miller will return. Bill O’Brien said his top running back is “good to go” against the Jaguars. Miller missed much of the past two games with a sprained ankle. The Jags are unlikely to have Leonard Fournette available, with the second-year back listed as doubtful.