A new name is available in free agency and happens to play a position of need for the Chicago Bears.
The #Chiefs have released S Eric Berry. End of an era in KC.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 13, 2019
NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport reports the Kansas City Chiefs have parted ways with safety Eric Berry (the Chiefs have since confirmed the transaction), launching him unexpectedly onto the free agent market.
The move comes three years after the Chiefs used the Franchise tag to keep Berry from hitting free agency, preventing him from negotiating a deal with any other teams in the market. Berry rewarded the Chiefs with a Pro Bowl season in 2016, when he was selected as a first-team All-Pro safety. That year, he racked up 77 tackles, came up with four interceptions, and scored a pair of touchdowns as he played in all 16 games.
After Berry’s stellar 2016 campaign, the Chiefs signed him to a long-term extension that made him the league’s highest-paid safety at the time. Unfortunately, Berry has played in just three games in the two seasons that have come since. Berry suffered an Achillies injury on opening night in 2017 and hasn’t quite been the same. And with the addition of Tyrann Mathieu to their secondary, you could understand why the team cut ties with Berry. With that said, should the Bears be interested in a bounce-back/lottery ticket type deal?
Uhm, yeah. In the right situation, the Bears should probably take a flier on Berry. He’s only 30 years old and is just two years removed from being an All-Pro safety at the top of his game. The health concerns are notable and should be taken into consideration if the team decides to take a run at him. But if the Bears can sign him to a one-year “prove it” deal loaded with incentives and roster bonuses, it could be a win-win for both sides – especially given the the pricey safety market this offseason.
Of course, Chicago probably won’t be the only team calling and offering this type of deal for Berry. But with teams attacking the top end of the safety market early, the field of suitors in the hunt for Berry’s services isn’t as crowded as it once was. Between the Bears’ cap situation and current needs, Berry’s situation – and ones similar to it – will need to be monitored moving forward.