The Kansas City Chiefs are reportedly planning to use the franchise tag on safety Eric Berry ahead of Tuesday 3 p.m. (Arrowhead Time) deadline. This according to a report from NFL Network's Rand Getlin shortly before the deadline. (Update: ESPN's Adam Teicher and the KC Star's Terez Paylor are now reporting the same)
I'm told the #Chiefs plan to tag safety Eric Berry. Both sides interested in working toward a long-term deal.— Rand Getlin (@Rand_Getlin) March 1, 2016
I wouldn't say this is a surprise, but I did think the Chiefs had a shot at signing Berry to a long-term deal. That would have been preferable, because not only would you have one of your best players under contract long-term, but it would also open the franchise tag to use on someone else such as Sean Smith.
Berry's tag will be approximately $10.8 million. The two sides do want to reach agreement on a long-term deal and I think it's a good bet that they do eventually. The Chiefs tagged Justin Houston last year and then signed him to a long-term deal shortly before the July 15 deadline to sign franchise tagged players to long-term contract. If Berry is signed, the two sides have until that date to sign a long-term deal and if they do not then Berry would have to play out the season on the one-year franchise tender. Once Berry signs it, the money is guaranteed.
There are ramifications to tagging Berry. This makes it very, very likely that Sean Smith will get to the open market on March 9. It also means that the Chiefs could be strapped financially in other areas because there is no way to massage the $10.8 million franchise tender. On a long-term deal, the Chiefs could give Berry a big bonus up front in order to lower his cap number. The cap number for a franchise tender can not be massaged.