It’s never a good idea to count him out. But after Berry’s two mostly inactive seasons, the Chiefs can no longer afford to plan on his return, not after their dismal defense prevented them in 2018 from advancing to the Super Bowl -- something they haven’t done in almost 50 years.
They had to make a move at safety, and on the first day of the free-agent negotiating period they made a bold one, agreeing to contract terms with Tyrann Mathieu.
6. I think, even though Chiefs safety Eric Berry is 30 and has played only four games of Kansas City’s last 35 because of illness/injury, and even though he is owed $12.5 million in salary and bonus this year, I expect Andy Reid to keep him. Reid believes in Berry’s leadership and thinks he can still be an impact safety. Also important: Berry would be a $14.95-million dead-cap weight on the Chiefs if cut.
6) Landon Collins (and other safeties) should continue thanking the Giants
The huge contract kickstarted an avalanche of lucrative contracts at the position. Tyrann Mathieu received $42 million over three years from the Chiefs, according to NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport. The Honey Badger was the Chiefs’ top target in free agency, making it fair to wonder if Eric Berry could be released in the coming days. The contract completes a remarkable comeback by Mathieu from his second torn ACL. It also wasn’t the last deal given to a safety patiently waiting for long-term love.
8) A terribly incomplete list of other notable transactions ...
-- The Bills were quietly very active, agreeing to terms with Frank Gore, former Chiefs starting center Mitch Morse, former Texans cornerback Kevin Johnson and former Bengals tight end Tyler Kroft. The Kroft contract was especially generous, but it was interesting to see Buffalo aggressively go after players on Day 1, who I expected to be part of Phase 2 of free agency. Morse is now one of the highest-paid centers in football, according to Pelissero.
The Buffalo Bills had to go big on the offensive line in free agency and they got started in a massive way on Monday night, reportedly coming to an agreement with free agent center Mitch Morse on a four-year deal worth around $44 million.
If signed, Houston would immediately upgrade a Packers defense that too often relied on interior pressure and blitzes to generate a pass rush last season. After injuries decimated the line -- Kenny Clark, Mike Daniels, and Muhammad Wilkerson missed a combined 22 games in 2018 -- coordinator Mike Pettine lacked the horses necessary for an effective defense. An edge rusher like Houston, while not a cure-all at this stage of his career, diversifies Pettine’s personnel and reduces the burden to harass the quarterback on the rest of the defensive front.
Hill has one year remaining on the contract he signed after being drafted by the Chiefs in 2016. Bucky Brooks of the NFL Network, quoting Rapoport, believes Hill could get a deal worth $100 million.
In a story on NFL.com, Brooks wrote: “While that number might make some observers cry out at the idea that a wide receiver is worth ‘quarterback’ money, Hill’s new contract could change the way the football world values playmakers on the perimeter. Unlike Antonio Brown, Odell Beckham Jr., Julio Jones and DeAndre Hopkins who are regarded as true No. 1 receivers, Hill is a ‘flex’ player with dynamic skills as a receiver, runner and returner. No. 10 can impact that game in a variety of ways that extend beyond just catching passes.”
Unfortunately for the franchises behind them, free agency isn’t always a panacea. The players who earned the five richest contracts of 2018 all wound up on non-playoff squads. Sammy Watkins got $30 million guaranteed to haul in 40 receptions for the Chiefs. Case Keenum was so uninspiring as the Broncos’ quarterback he was replaced by someone worse than he was.
So, who makes up 2019’s top free agents? Check back often as we’ll update the list as guys get signed.
Surely Brett Veach won’t have a problem with this.
Around the league
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Denver Broncos agreed to terms with offensive tackle Ja’Wuan James on a four-year, $52 million deal that includes $32 million guaranteed.
The Redskins made their splash in free agency. Washington will reportedly sign former New York Giants safety Landon Collins to a 6 year, $84 million deal when free agency officially opens on Wednesday. It was well known the Redskins were in the market for a safety this offseason, and Collins was a top target. It was reported today that the Redskins and the Colts were the two teams most interested in signing him. The Colts came into the offseason with over $100 million in cap space. It was thought they wouldn’t be outspent, that thought was wrong and Washington got their guy.
“The Oakland Raiders sign offensive tackle Trent Brown to a four-year, $66 million deal, with $36.75 million guaranteed.”
Brown was New England’s starting left tackle for its Super Bowl champion team last season. He may prove to be a good signing by the Raiders and the Patriots will regret seeing him leave. Or he may not live up to the expensive contract. Or something in the middle. That’s the gamble of free agency.
A league source confirmed the Broncos agreed to a three-year contract with Houston Texans cornerback/safety Kareem Jackson.
NFL Network reported the deal will be worth $33 million ($23 million guaranteed). The average salary of $11 million will make Jackson the team’s highest-paid cornerback.
The Oakland Raiders’ spending spree continued late Monday night. This time, they addressed their defense.
As first reported by NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the Raiders are expected to sign Lamarcus Joyner away from the Rams. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, it’ll be a four-year deal for the 28-year-old safety.
The Lions are slated to be adding pass rusher Trey Flowers on a five-year contract, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reports. The deal, which reunites Flowers with coach Matt Patricia, is expected to be worth more than $16 or $17 million per season.
The addition of Flowers continues the pipeline of former New England players to Detroit. On Monday alone, the Lions brought in receiver Danny Amendola (five years with the Patriots), and agreed to deals with corner Justin Coleman (two years with the Patriots) and Flowers. (The Lions also added tight end Jesse James later Monday).
Broncos cornerback Bradley Roby has found a healthy free agent market.
He is generating interest from several teams, including the Texans, Browns, Steelers, 49ers and Raiders, James Palmer of NFL Media reports.
Nick Foles has a new team, one that comes as no surprise.
The Super Bowl LII MVP is expected to sign a four-year, $88 million deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars, a source told NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport and NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo on Monday. Foles can make up to $102 million with incentives, Garafolo added.
In a career that will likely conclude in Canton, Frank Gore is headed to his fourth franchise. The veteran running back will sign a one-year, $2 million deal with the Buffalo Bills, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported, per sources, Monday afternoon.
The Daily News has learned that Gang Green is divided on prized free-agent running back Le’Veon Bell. Frankly, some folks on One Jets Drive don’t believe that A) he’s worth the anticipated price tag and/or B) he’s worth the risk given his mileage and mercurialness.
There’s a general feeling in the building that Bell is worth pursuing only to a certain point. In other words, the Jets do not want to break the bank and fork over what Bell evidently wants: $15-16 million per year.
In case you missed it at Arrowhead Pride
The Kansas City Chiefs are signing former Houston Texans safety Tyrann Mathieu to a three-year deal worth $42 million. That equates to $14 million per year, the same amount of money the Chiefs freed up by releasing linebacker Justin Houston on Sunday.
Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer weighed in with his Ford take in his weekly column, Monday Morning Quarterback.
BREER: As I understand it, with new DC Steve Spagnuolo in town, Ford might not have a home in the base defense or even the early-down sub packages, because of his issues holding up against the run. That’s not to say Ford can’t play for Spagnuolo—he’s a high-end pass rusher, and in today’s NFL there’s great value in that, even if it’s all you do. But if Ford will be just a situational player for Spags, it’s hard to justify giving him a contract in the range of what, say, Von Miller is making. Or even to pay him the $15.5 million attached to the linebacker tag (since he was a ’backer last year).
Free agent tracker
If there is any page on the site to bookmark, it is this one. We will update that page all throughout this week and beyond as free agents become Chiefs and former Chiefs land with other teams.
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