Kansas City Chiefs Rumors & News

Chiefs To Tag Eric Berry Over Dontari Poe?

The Chiefs have only one franchise tag to give but they have two key free agents that are worthy of consideration. Right now, the “expectation” is that they will tag Eric Berry and allow Dontari Poe to be an unrestricted free agent, unless one of them agrees to a new deal in the next 48 hours, Ed Werder of ESPN.com tweetsEric Berry (vertical)

Evaluations of Poe will vary depending on who you talk to. By our measure, Poe ranks as the fifth-best pending free agent defensive tackle, behind Kawann Short, Calais Campbell, Johnathan Hankins, and Brandon Williams. Some league execs might consider the former first-round pick to be as high as No. 3 on that list. No matter what, Poe will get major money thrown at him from all angles if he reaches the open market, and that could price him out of Kansas City.

Berry was retained with the franchise tag prior to the 2016 season and he has been vocal about not wanting to play under another one-year tender. If the Chiefs follow through on this plan and tag Berry, they could conceivably wind up in a standoff with their most popular player. Ideally, KC would probably like to work out a multi-year deal with the strong safety and use the franchise tag on Poe, particularly since the defensive tackle is amenable to playing on the lucrative one-year tender.

Here’s a fun fact from Albert Breer of The MMQB (on Twitter): the $12.97MM tag for Berry would push him to $73.82MM in career earnings, which means that he would remain the highest paid safety in NFL history on a average per-year basis. Of course, Berry would prefer to keep the mantle of highest-paid safety while also gaining the security of a multi-year deal.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Chiefs’ Eric Berry Talks

Discussions between the Chiefs and Eric Berry are ongoing and will likely persist until Wednesday’s deadline for teams to apply the franchise tag to players. But the three-time All-Pro safety isn’t exactly optimistic a long-term deal is coming by then.

I’m just being patient because you never know,” Berry said, via Adam Teicher of ESPN.com. “I’m not getting my hopes up.”

As for Berry’s vow not to play a second season as a franchised-tagged performer, the 28-year-old defender stands by it, he told Teicher. Berry confirmed, via Terez Paylor of the Kansas City Star (Twitter link), talks between his agent and Chiefs management are continuing. And team chairman Clark Hunt said “both sides want to get it done.”

The Chiefs’ end of the dialogue doesn’t differ much from last year, when the sides couldn’t come close to agreeing on a long-term pact. But Berry’s does, as does Kansas City’s situation.

Berry is a year older but is coming off probably his best season, which saw him return two interceptions for pivotal touchdowns en route to joining Earl Thomas as the only active safeties with three first-team All-Pro distinctions. The former first-rounder also could have a higher compensation target, given Tyrann Mathieu‘s six-year deal ($12.5MM AAV) that was signed after the Chiefs and Berry’s 2016 talks ceased. Berry, who played on his rookie deal from 2010-15, earned $10.86MM on the tag last year. Another Berry tag would cost the Chiefs $12.967MM.

While Berry won’t be happy if he’s tagged by Wednesday, depriving him of another chance to venture onto the free agent market in his 20s, but the Chiefs have until July 15 reach an agreement with their cornerstone defender. However, tagging Berry this week means Dontari Poe stands to become a free agent, assuming no long-term deal occurs between the Chiefs and their perennial starting nose tackle.

Kansas City is projected to have just $5.1MM in cap space, and although the team can shed nearly $17MM more by cutting Jamaal Charles and declining Nick Foles‘ 2017 option, it could still be a tight squeeze.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Projecting Donatri Poe's Value

Opinion: Chiefs Shouldn't Be Considered Favorites For Tony Romo

  • Kansas City could pursue soon-to-be former Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo in the coming weeks, but it would be unwise to regard the Chiefs as one of the favorites for his services, argues Adam Teichner of ESPN.com. If the Chiefs were to fail in an attempt to reel in Romo, they’d risk causing irreparable damage to their relationship with Smith, opines Teichner. Considering that, the Chiefs might only get involved in the Romo sweepstakes if they’re sure they’re going to come out on top.

Chiefs Sign RB C.J. Spiller

C.J. Spiller has a new NFL home. The Chiefs announced on Friday morning that they have signed the veteran running back. "<strong

[RELATED: Could Chiefs Could Part Ways With Alex Smith?]

In 2016 alone, he bounced between three teams. He started the campaign with the Saints and he was quickly signed by the Seahawks following his release by New Orleans. The former first-rounder eventually found his way to the Jets, but his stint there ended after about five weeks. Spiller finished the year with six carries for 18 yards.

At one point in time, Spiller was considered to be a starting-caliber back. Now, on the cusp of his 30th birthday, it’s not clear if he’ll be able to stick on anyone’s roster. The Chiefs are about to find out.

The Chiefs now have four running backs under contract for 2016: Jamaal Charles, Spencer Ware, Charcandrick West, and Spiller. Charles is scheduled to count for nearly $6.2MM on Kansas City’s 2017 salary cap and is considered to be a release candidate.

As Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com (on Twitter) points out, Spiller shares an agent with pending free agent safety Eric Berry. The Chiefs may or may not be paying a favor to agent Chad Speck, but we at least know that the two sides are speaking.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Chiefs Could Part Ways With Alex Smith?

Alex Smith has averaged nearly 11 wins per season during his four-year run with the Chiefs, but that won’t stop Kansas City from exploring other quarterback options this offseason, according to Jason Cole of Bleacher Report (video link), who notes a “growing sense” among NFL executives that the Chiefs could move on from Smith. However, Kansas City will likely only part ways Smith if it’s able to acquire another signal-caller such as the Cowboys’ Tony Romo or the Patriots’ Jimmy Garoppolo, per Cole.Alex Smith

[RELATED: Chiefs Likely To Decline Nick Foles’ Option]

Smith’s potential ouster has been a topic of conversation before, as has possible mutual interest between the Chiefs and Romo. A prospective Kansas City acquisition of Garoppolo, however, has not, although the New England signal-caller figures to be a desirable item in the coming weeks, as the Browns, Bears, and 49ers are all expected to make a push for Garoppolo (and have more attractive draft picks to offer).

A “strong feeling” exists within league circles that the Chiefs have plateaued with Smith, but Kansas City won’t acquire Romo — or presumably, Garoppolo — without cutting ties with Smith first. While the Chiefs could look to trade Smith to a quarterback-needy club, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reported earlier this month that Kansas City would likely release Smith if they landed Romo. The Chiefs would save $9.7MM by cutting Smith, or $13.3MM by designating him as a post-June 1 release.

Since being acquired prior to the 2013 campaign, Smith has averaged 19 touchdowns and seven interceptions per season while completing 64.5% of his passes for the Chiefs. Smith, 32, has led Kansas City to three postseason appearances during that span, but the Chiefs have never advanced past the Divisional Round.

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OL Geoff Schwartz Announces Retirement

Longtime NFL offensive lineman Geoff Schwartz announced his retirement today, writing on SB Nation today that he’s decided to hang up his cleats.Geoff Schwartz (vertical)

Schwartz, 30, spent last summer on the Lions’ offseason roster after signing a one-year, minimum salary benefit deal with Detroit. Expected to serve as a reserve at several positions along the line, Schwartz was waived at the end of August. As he writes in his retirement piece, Schwartz fully expected to land another contract after parting ways with the Lions, but after weeks passed with no contact from interested clubs, Schwartz realized his career was likely over.

Nevertheless, Schwartz’s seven-year NFL run can’t be considered anything other than a success, especially given that Schwartz entered the league as seventh-round pick and suffered a devastating hip injury soon after becoming an established starter. After bouncing around with the Panthers and Vikings, Schwartz played his best ball with the Chiefs in 2013, grading as one of the best guards in the NFL.

After parlaying his seven-game starter stint in Kansas City into a four-year deal with the Giants, Schwartz dealt with injury once again, managing to play in only 13 games over two seasons thanks to ankle, toe, and leg issues. Having struggled to stay on the field, Schwartz was released by New York last February.

Schwartz has already begun his post-NFL career in media: not only does he pen excellent pieces at SB Nation, but he’s co-authored a book with his brother, Chiefs offensive tackle Mitchell Schwartz. For offensive line junkies, Schwartz’s Twitter account is a must-follow, as is his podcast.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Poll: Will Chiefs Re-Sign Eric Berry, Dontari Poe?

Two defenders responsible for helping the Chiefs revitalize their operation in the mid-2010s are now two of the NFL’s most impactful free agents-to-be, and the major question involving Kansas City’s offseason will be if the team can retain both Eric Berry and Dontari Poe.

Each resides either at or near the top of his respective positional hierarchy as far as 2017 UFAs go, and the Chiefs do not stand to possess much in terms of cap space. While the team is expected to pass on Nick Foles‘ option to free up $6.75MM and will likely move on from Jamaal Charles ($6.19MM saved), the prospect of retaining both Berry and Poe will still be daunting.

Berry, of course, played the 2016 season on the franchise tag after the sides couldn’t come close to an agreement last July. The safety delivered maybe his best year, operating as a full-time defender throughout a season for the first time since 2013, and earned first-team All-Pro honors for the third time. Among active safeties, only Earl Thomas has achieved that status as often as Berry.

The safety landscape has also changed since Berry and the Chiefs were last at the bargaining table, with Tyrann Mathieu resetting the market with an extension that pays him $12.5MM annually. So, this could be a complex negotiation, especially considering the 28-year-old safety vowed he won’t play another season on a tag. Nevertheless, PFR’s Zach Links pegs Berry as a strong candidate to be tagged again.

Despite entering his eighth season, Berry has not signed a veteran contract. He played on an old-CBA rookie deal from 2010-15, and after making a triumphant cancer conquest en route to 2015 comeback player of the year acclaim, the Chiefs used the franchise tag to retain him for $10.806MM. Another tag, even as a means to an extension, would cost Kansas City $12.967MM and limit the team regarding Poe or the pursuit of higher-end outside free agents. John Dorsey confirmed the team is discussing re-ups for both players, but Berry’s agent pumped the brakes on Dorsey’s notion the talks are progressing positively. Dorsey’s signed numerous players to extensions, including several drafted by previous regimes, which Berry and Poe were. But being set for the last full season of his 20s, Berry figures to drive hard for a lucrative deal now.

Berry would certainly be the top safety available, while Poe might become the No. 1 defensive tackle on the market. The Panthers plan to use the franchise tag on Kawann Short, and with the Ravens prioritizing a Brandon Williams extension, Poe would induce a nice competition for his services if the Chiefs let the mammoth defender reach free agency. Although he’s a 3-4 nose tackle by trade, it’s likely Poe’s camp will be targeting a deal closer to Fletcher Cox or Marcell Dareus — or at least second-tier 4-3 DTs Michael Brockers ($11MM AAV) or Damon Harrison ($9.25MM AAV) — than traditional 3-4 inside men. A two-time Pro Bowler, Poe will turn 27 before the season begins. While his feelings about the tag aren’t yet known, it’s unlikely he’ll see it as a non-starter the way Berry does. The Chiefs and their largest player weren’t especially close on an extension in 2016. On a fifth-year option last season, Poe made just more than $6MM. A franchise tag would pay the former first-round pick approximately $13.47MM.

Unlike Berry, Poe has not delivered his best work over the past two seasons. A back surgery hampered his 2015 season, and Pro Football Focus graded Poe as its No. 59 interior defender a year later. The Chiefs also may have been planning for a future without their nose guard when they selected Chris Jones in the second round last year. Jones flashed often last season, looking like a long-term starter. Kansas City also has two starting defensive ends — Allen Bailey and Jaye Howard — tethered to the 2017 payroll at $6.16MM and $6.38MM, respectively. So, a Poe accord would stack that unit with veteran salaries and limit the team to some degree at other spots. However, both Bailey and Howard went down with season-ending injuries in 2016, further complicating this equation.

Kansas City stands to possess barely $4MM in cap space before making decisions on Foles and Charles. Due to a run of recent extensions and re-signings, the Chiefs don’t have a lot of other ways to create a quick cash influx. The Chiefs like to backload their deals, a tactic which helped them afford Jeremy Maclin two years ago despite scant cap room. But that strategy will see spikes in some players’ 2017 wages. An offseason featuring a backloaded Berry pact and a Poe tag would leave the team thin in space, and despite the Chiefs not possessing a host of glaring needs, these deals would prevent them from addressing them seriously in free agency.

So, do you see the Chiefs paying to keep both of these players? If so, how will the franchise tag come into play? How much will Berry’s standing as a cornerstone Kansas City athlete and inspirational figure impact his deal? Vote in PFR’s latest poll.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Chiefs Likely To Decline Nick Foles’ Option

The Chiefs are likely to pass on quarterback Nick Foles‘ option for 2017, sources tell Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (on Twitter). Interestingly, Garafolo hears that the option would have paid Foles $6.4MM rather than the $10.4MM figure that was reported by many outlets. Nick Foles (vertical)

Foles will now enter the free agent market at a time when several teams are desperate for answers at quarterback. The veteran may not be an inspiring option, but he could be an affordable placeholder for clubs that are not inspired by this year’s crop of signal callers in free agency or the draft. At minimum, Foles can find a home as an experienced No. 2 QB, but he’ll almost certainly earn less than $6.4MM in 2017.

Last year, Foles appeared in three games and got one start while Alex Smith was banged up. In that limited sample, he completed 65.5% of his passes while throwing three touchdowns and zero interceptions. Foles had his breakout year in 2013 under Chip Kelly in Philadelphia but he has yet to repeat that success. In between the Eagles and Chiefs, Foles spent 2015 with the Rams, a season he’d like to forget.

The Chiefs now have two QBs on the roster in Smith and Tyler Bray. It would not be surprising to see them pursue a more experienced backup QB this offseason.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

2017 NFL Franchise Tag Candidates

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Starting today, NFL teams will be able to place franchise and transition tags on potential free agents for the first time. While the window for franchise tags is open, most clubs won’t actually tag any players right away.

As our list of important dates for the 2017 offseason shows, the deadline for teams to assign those tags doesn’t come until Wednesday, March 1st. Usually, when it comes to NFL contract discussions, deadlines spur action, so teams will wait until that deadline approaches to officially use franchise tags, once it becomes clear that they won’t be able to strike a longer-term deal yet with their respective free-agents-to-be.

Even though the action might not heat up for a couple more weeks, it’s worth taking a closer look at what to expect during 2017’s franchise tag period. The NFL hasn’t officially announced the salary cap figure for 2017, but former agent Joel Corry of CBSSports.com recently projected the 2017 franchise tag salaries based on a presumed $168MM cap. Here are the expected non-exclusive franchise tag amounts:

  • Quarterback: $21.395MM
  • Running back: $12.377MM
  • Wide receiver: $15.826MM
  • Tight end: $9.894MM
  • Offensive line: $14.444MM
  • Defensive end: $16.955MM
  • Defensive tackle: $13.468MM
  • Linebacker: $14.754MM
  • Cornerback: $14.297MM
  • Safety: $10.961MM
  • Punter/kicker: $4.863MM

(For a refresher on the characteristics of the exclusive and non-exclusive franchise tags, as well as the transition tag, be sure to check out PFR’s glossary entry on the subject.)

Here’s our look at the most likely candidates to be tagged, along with several more outside possibilities:

Virtual Locks:

Chandler Jones, DE, Cardinals: Maybe Jones should headline a category titled “Super Duper Virtual Locks.” In January, coach Bruce "<strongArians said that the Cards would apply the franchise tag to Jones if they were unable to immediately lock him up to a long-term deal. Then, just this week, Cardinals president Michael Bidwill offered additional confirmation of that plan. The $16.955MM tag will be applied to Jones in the next couple of weeks and the two sides will then have until the summer to work out a long-term deal. The odds of a longer pact coming together seem pretty good, considering the Cardinals knew what they were getting themselves into when they traded for Jones last year.

Kawann Short, DT, Panthers: Panthers head coach Ron Rivera admits that Short will “probably” be tagged and, unlike ex-teammate Josh Norman, Short doesn’t have a problem with it. The 28-year-old was the third-best defensive tackle in the NFL last year, according to Pro Football Focus, and the Panthers will gladly pay him ~$13.5MM on a one-year deal. A multi-year agreement could require an average annual value of $17MM, so our early guess is that Short will wind up actually playing on the tender.


Le’Veon Bell
, RB, Steelers: We’ve known for a while now that the Steelers will use the franchise tag on Bell. For all of his off-the-field headaches, Bell still stands as one of the league’s most dynamic running backs and a one-year, $12.3MM deal would suit Pittsburgh just fine. Sometime after the tag is in place, we’re expecting the two sides to agree on a long-term deal. As I wrote in our most recent edition of the Free Agent Power Rankings, Bell will top LeSean McCoy‘s ~$8MM AAV and Doug Martin‘s $15MM in guarantees on a new multiyear pact. Of course, other factors such as cash flow will be pivotal in talks, particularly given the limited shelf life of running backs.
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