The rumors continue to swirl back and forth about Eric Berry and his status with the Kansas City Chiefs. Let's get the timeline straight before discussing the latest.
- On Monday, NFL Network's Rand Getlin says there has been "no serious progress" in talks between both sides.
- On Wednesday, Ian Rapoport says he has "no doubt" that Berry will be back with the Chiefs.
On Wednesday night, Jason La Canfora weighed in with what he's hearing and what he's guessing with the following from the first full day of the 2016 NFL Combine:
"I continue to hear Philly, Miami, Jacksonville, Kansas City, Oakland and Washington as the teams sniffing around the high-end safety market. I would not be surprised if Eric Weddle maintains his $8 million-per-year stature on the open market, especially if he ends up signing with one of those rebuilding teams with cap space to spare. I still have a hard time thinking the Chiefs don't end up tagging Eric Berry and then getting something long-term done this summer, similar to the Justin Houston situation a year ago."
There's a lot to read into this, so let me separate my thoughts with further bullet points.
- It is possible that all three analysts are correct, with Dorsey using the franchise tag being the common thread. The Chiefs being forced to use the tag would point to the idea that "no serious progress" has been made, and yet it also holds true that it would keep Berry in house no matter what. Initially when I read Rapoport's report, I was hopeful of a long-term extension that would keep the franchise tag in play for another player, but alas that might not be.
- La Canfora is smart to look back at the previous way Dorsey has done things in the past. The precedent set with the tag-and-we'll-fix-this-later makes sense if you're cool losing your single offseason guarantee. If Dorsey is willing to let Jaye Howard and/or Sean Smith hit the market, then use the tag on Berry and be done with it. (The tag could be less in that single year than what Berry might cost per season in a new multi-year deal anyway.)
- I also like the fact that the Chiefs are apparently showing some interest in the overall high-end safety market. Husain Abdullah, Tyvon Branch and Berry are all free agents. If the Chiefs somehow lose their grip on Berry, it's nice to know the Chiefs are willing to spend to replace him. The market is definitely talent-rich, so while Berry is the cream of the crop, if you drop the emotions, you're left with potential options in Eric Weddle, George Iloka, Reggie Nelson.
- The team needs some significant work at the position, and it's possible the Chiefs invest in a safety early — maybe Von Bell in the 2nd or Miles Killebrew in the 3rd — no matter what they do.
This is not the last rumor we'll hear about Berry and the Chiefs going one way or another, but at least they're all centered in some way — that the Chiefs using the franchise tag makes a lot of sense with the rumors that are swirling.