Chiefs safety Eric Berry has been very clear about his uncertain contract status. The pending free agent told The Star at the Super Bowl that he will sit out the season if he is franchise-tagged and not given a long-term contract by the July 15 deadline, and on Sunday, he reiterated that point when asked at the 101 Awards if he’s changed his mind.
“No I haven’t,” said Berry, who played the 2016 season under the $10.8 million franchise tender. “I still stand firm on that.”
Berry, 28, responded to the franchise tag in ’16 with another All-Pro season. Playing under the tag again would net him a guaranteed $12.96 million.
Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt said the conversation between the club and Berry’s representation is ongoing.
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“The conversation is ongoing, and I think the good news is both the organization and the player want to get it done,” Hunt said. “It’s just a matter of finding the middle ground that works for both parties at this point.”
Berry confirmed that there’s been contact between his agent and the team, though he knows better than to assume anything.
“I’m going to keep being patient because you never know,” Berry said. “Last year I thought one thing and it didn’t happen. So I’m not getting my hopes up; I’m looking at it logically.”
The Chiefs have until 3 p.m. Wednesday to designate Berry — or even another pending free agent, like star nose tackle Dontari Poe — with the franchise tag. The team can only use it on one player, so one could hit the open market with zero restrictions if the Chiefs can’t sign at least one of them to an extension before the deadline.
“We’ll just work on that as we go along here,” Hunt said, when asked if Poe will be back. “There’s a sequence we need to approach things with … we’ve still got a few weeks before we get into free agency, and Dontari is somebody we’d love to have back with the team this year.”
Berry, for his part, would love to be back, too, though he admits he does not know what the future holds.
“I really hope so … I think so, too,” Berry said, when asked if he thinks he’ll remain in Kansas City. “Only time will tell. We’ll see.”