Chiefs must pay Eric Berry

The Kansas City Chiefs played hardball with Eric Berry last year, and now are going to pay through the nose to get a long-term deal done.

At this point, we all know the story. In 2016, general manager John Dorsey and Eric Berry’s agent, Chad Speck, couldn’t come to an agreement on a long-term deal by the July 15 deadline. The result was Berry playing on the franchise tag.

Now, a year later, Berry told the NFL Network and, later, other outlets, that he would not accept playing on the tag again. In essence, Berry stated that he wanted to be in Kansas City for the rest of his career, but that if the team won’t commit to him on a long-term basis, he wants to become a free agent and go elsewhere.

I’ve seen some talk on social media and elsewhere that the Chiefs should save the considerable money it will take to sign him and put it into other avenues of the team. Let’s put that insanity to bed right now.

The best way to spend a large chunk of money this offseason is to pay Berry, who is going to be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame when all is set and done. Despite being one of the best players in the game since his rookie season of 2010, he somehow seems underappreciated by a legion of fans.

Berry has made five Pro Bowls (only missing due to a torn ACL and cancer, which he beat in less than a year and gained a pound throughout chemo because of his workout regimen). He has twice been named a first-team All-Pro. For comparison, Troy Polamalu reached eight Pro Bowls and four times was a first-team All-Pro over a 12-year career. Berry is on that track. We are talking about one of the greatest players ever at his position.

Once you factor in his leadership, something every player on the team talks about with reverence, it’s a no-brainer. Berry is going to cost a ton. The guess here is that his deal ends up being somewhere around five years and $62 million with $30 million guaranteed. It will make him the richest safety in league history. That’s fine. He’s worth every damn penny.

The faster Dorsey gets this done, the quicker the Chiefs can move onto other issues. The franchise tag window is from February 15 until March 1. If he signs Berry before March, Dorsey could theoretically tag Dontari Poe (I wouldn’t do that, it’ll cost $14 million, but it’s possible). He could also save that money and spend it to upgrade other areas, since a long-term Berry deal would be much cheaper this year than a $13 million tag for the safety.

Regardless, the time has come. Sit at the table, rip out a check, hand it to Berry, and give him the pen.

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