We have released safety Eric Berry.https://t.co/WFABSnECVq— Kansas City Chiefs (@Chiefs) March 13, 2019
Chiefs owner Clark Hunt, head coach Andy Reid and general manager all released statements, via an official press release.
HUNT: “On behalf of my family and the entire Chiefs organization, I want to thank Eric for his many contributions to the Chiefs over the last nine seasons. Eric has been a tremendous leader for our football team and an inspiration to so many fans over the years, and we sincerely appreciate all that he has meant to the Chiefs. He will always be an important part of our Chiefs family, and we wish him nothing but the best in the future.”
REID: “I’d like to thank Eric for his contributions to our team and the Kansas City community over the last nine years. Seeing his passion and watching his love for the game has been truly remarkable. He’s a special person, and we wish him the best as his career moves forward.”
VEACH: “We continually evaluate every aspect of our football team and we came to the decision that it was in our best interest to release Eric. Knowing what Eric has meant to this organization and this city made this an incredibly difficult decision. We wish him nothing but the best.”
Friend of the site Matt Derrick of Chiefs Digest reports Berry’s release is a June 1 designation, the best-case scenario for the team when it comes to cap space.
Source says Berry is a post-June 1 cut. The Chiefs avoid a $7.25 million 2019 salary guarantee that would have kicked in Friday. Chiefs will realize $9.55 million in cap savings this year on June 2. Berry will count $6.95 million toward this year's cap, $8 million in 2020.— Matt Derrick (@mattderrick) March 13, 2019
As Derrick explains in the above tweet, the Chiefs may use the $9.55 million in cap savings beginning on June 2.
NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo explains more.
GARAFOLO: “I am told that after the season he did have an evaluation done by noted foot and ankle specialist Robert Anderson who determined Berry does not need surgery … Also, Anderson said this is nothing you can’t play with. It’s more of a pain management thing as the Chiefs have said all along. The belief is that Berry does want to continue playing and can continue playing and will not need a procedure or anything done there. The hope is that Berry is going to find a new home in the near future and continue his career and be able to be healthy and be able to be out there every week. We shall see.”
Berry, 30, was drafted by the Chiefs out of the University of Tennessee with the No. 5 overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft. He played in 89 games (87 starts) in nine NFL seasons with the Chiefs, recording 440 tackles (372 solo), 5.5 sacks, 14 interceptions (five return touchdowns), 51 passes defensed, three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.
He was named a Pro Bowler five times and an All-Pro three times and after defeating Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2014-15, came back to the team to win the NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year award for the ‘15 season.
Berry played on the franchise tag in 2016, and the Chiefs signed him to a six-year, $78 million contract in February of 2017. He played just three regular-season games, including only two in 2018, under his new deal thanks to a ruptured Achilles in 2017 and lingering heel issues in 2018.
The Chiefs most recently said that Berry would not opt for offseason surgery, and the latest we had heard was that there was a “plan in place for these guys and no one is more excited to get back at this thing than Eric,” per Veach at the NFL Scouting Combine.
Veach’s bidding war victory over the Houston Texans for star safety Tyrann Mathieu on Monday likely made Veach, Reid and the Chiefs comfortable enough to move on from a situation that by the end, truly became a distraction.
The messy ending shouldn’t take away from what Berry—often referred to as the team’s “heart and soul”—meant to the fan base, and where Berry lands will be a point to watch.
In the matter of less than a week’s time, the Chiefs have moved on from Berry, Justin Houston and Dee Ford, completing a true overhaul of the team’s defensive core.