The Chiefs are making a strong push to retain the services of star safety Eric Berry, a source confirmed to The Star on Monday.
ESPN reported the news first. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport also reported that the club is negotiating a deal to make Berry the highest-paid safety in the NFL.
Berry, 28, is coming off a second consecutive All-Pro season and has said multiple times throughout the offseason that he has no intention of playing in 2017 if he does not have a new long-term deal.
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. After that, they have until July 15 to agree on a long-term deal. If no deal is in place by then, the player will have to play 2017 under the franchise tender, which is expected to be around $13 million for both Berry (who was franchised in 2016) and Poe.
The team can only use the tag 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.
A deal with Berry, however, would allow the Chiefs to retain Poe, 26, with the franchise tag.
When asked if the Chiefs plan on retaining Poe, team chairman Clark Hunt said they do, though there’s a process in place that needs to occur before that can happen.
“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.”