Kansas City Chiefs: Breaking Down Franchising Eric Berry

The Kansas City Chiefs may apply the franchise tag to star safety Eric Berry. What would that mean for him and for the team?

Kansas City Chiefs free safety Eric Berry is schedule to become an unrestricted free agent. However, the star defensive back is wholly uninterested in doing anything short-term. For him to re-sign with the Chiefs at this point, it’s going to take a long-term deal. However, there’s always the possibility that the Chiefs could use the franchise tag on Berry while they negotiate such a deal

While Ian Rapaport of NFL Network reported late on Monday that the Chiefs and Berry were working on a long-term deal to make him the highest-paid safety in the league, it’s not a foregone conclusion. Especially considering that previous reports less than 24 hours prior were that Berry was not confident about getting a long-term deal done, per the Kansas City Star.

With all of that in mind, let’s take a look at what franchising Berry would mean for both him and the Chiefs in 2017, answering frequently asked questions about the subject.

What will it cost to tag Eric Berry in 2017?

Berry will be tagged for $12.96 million against Kansas City’s cap in 2017. That is just over a $2 million increase over the tag number last year. It puts the Chiefs’ cap number in very dire straights if they don’t move some guys and some money around.

Will Berry play during the season under the tag?

The simple answer is no. Berry has stated a few times that he does not want to play under the franchise tag. He wants a long-term deal and he wants to win. I am on the side of the players as much as possible and it is no different here. Berry is a leader on and off the field and has most of the leverage for this deal. He knows the Chiefs cannot afford to let him sit out the season.

Will the Chiefs work out a long term deal with Berry?

For most of February the optimism was high in Kansas City from both Berry and the Chiefs. In the last two days Berry has tempered that optimism with his comments about not getting his hopes up for a long term deal. He may have been referring to the opportunity to deal before the franchise tag deadline of March 1. There is reason to believe that a deal can get done before July 15, which is the deadline to sign tagged players to a long term deal.

If they get it done, what would that deal look like?

Berry won’t accept anything less than being the highest paid safety in the league. The franchise tag is not good for either side in this situation because the Chiefs will no longer have space to maneuver in free agency. A long term deal would likely have 5-6 years with about a third of it guaranteed. A contract similar to, but greater than, the one given to Tyrann Mathieu last offseason by the Cardinals. It would likely exceed Alex Smith’s salary, but not Justin Houston’s.

What is in the way of the deal getting done?

Sometimes sides agree on the amount of money in the contract, but not the language. There may be ways that Berry will have to perform in order to get certain bonuses. Players would rather have that money loaded in salary or signing bonus instead of incentives. Both sides know that overall he will have to be the highest paid at his position. It all comes down to how he makes that money. For the team, they want as few guarantees as possible.

Will the Chiefs rescind the tag like the Panthers did last year?

This is not likely at all. Berry is a fan favorite and a locker room favorite in Kansas City. Chiefs general manager John Dorsey wants guys like that around for all the qualities they possess. Berry isn’t a media guy and hasn’t been talking much about the process. He just wants what he believes he has earned. They will find a way to keep him around for a few more years.

If they don’t get a deal done can he be tagged again next year?

Yes, but it would be very costly. According to the CBA, the Chiefs would have to pay Berry 144 percent of the salary in 2017, which would bring his one year salary to $18.66 million. I don’t think any team wants to pay a safety that much for one year.

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