Berry's absence from Chiefs OTAs is entirely expected
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Nobody really expected Chiefs safety Eric Berry to show up for three weeks of optional workouts. Not as he tries to land a mega contract to replace the franchise tag he was given this offseason.
Nobody is quite sure whether he'll show up for mandatory workouts, either.
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The Chiefs wrapped up organized team activities on a steamy Friday in Kansas City, and their three-day minicamp begins Tuesday. But Berry will not be required to attend that, either, because he has not signed his franchise tender that would pay him nearly $11 million this season, and is therefore not under contract.
Chiefs coach Andy Reid declined to discuss Berry's situation, saying those conversations are between general manager John Dorsey and Berry's agents, but teammates have said they understand the nature of the business.
"He's missed. Without a doubt, he's missed," quarterback Alex Smith said. "(But) we know the deal. It's pretty common in the league with the franchise tag and these guys' negotiation contracts, as far as staying away. For us, we are -- I know I am -- I'm hoping it gets done as soon as possible and get him back here."
The Chiefs have gone through this countless times in recent years.
Just last year, star linebacker Justin Houston skipped offseason workouts as his representatives negotiated a six-year, $101 million deal. That contract was signed in mid-July, after he had skipped mandatory workouts but before Houston would have been asked to show up for the start of training camp.
Left tackle Branden Albert ultimately played under the franchise tag in 2013, while wide receiver Dwayne Bowe and pass rusher Tamba Hali have gone through the tag-and-negotiation process over the past five years.
One positive is that the Chiefs and Berry's representatives have been talking for weeks, and so far those discussions have been amicable. One measuring stick could be the five-year, $51.25 million extension the Vikings and safety Harrison Smith recently reached -- one that includes more than $28 million guaranteed.
"We're trying to focus on who's here. That's always the focus," Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson said. "We have confidence when those guys get here, they'll be plugged right in. You're talking about high-character, veteran guys that we'll depend on during the season. Right now we have a lot of young guys that are trying to learn some new positions and new schemes, and some of the older guys like myself are trying to coach the young guys up."
Indeed, the talk of voluntary workouts has not been the veterans so much as the newcomers.
Defensive lineman Chris Jones has slipped seamlessly into the rotation, and the bevy of drafted cornerbacks -- KeiVarae Russell of Notre Dame, Eric Murray from Minnesota and D.J. White from Georgia Tech -- have started to turn some heads. Offensive lineman Parker Ehinger could also play meaningful snaps early in his career.
The biggest head turner, though, may be wide receiver Tyreek Hill, who made headlines during the draft because of his history of domestic violence. Hill addressed those issues after arriving in Kansas City, and even acknowledged that fans had a right to be upset with his selection given his history.
Now he's making headlines because of his world-class speed.
"He's certainly one of the fastest guys I've seen to come in," Smith said. "More than that, I've been impressed with how he's handled the playbook; kid coming in and really done well."
In other news, Houston and running back Jamaal Charles have been rehabbing after surgery to repair ACLs, and Hali has also been working out after a more minor knee procedure. Wide receiver Mike Smith has been dealing with a hamstring injury, and running back Charcandrick West has missed a couple of days with an illness.
Otherwise, everybody who was expected to take part in voluntary offseason workouts has made an appearance.
The question now is who will show up next week.