Chiefs coach Andy Reid said he’s not much of an angler, but he knows one fishing truth.
“I said yesterday that you don’t count the fish until it’s in the boat,” Reid said. “The fish is in the boat.”
And a big one at that. Eric Berry signed his franchise tender and is back with the Chiefs.
The return of Berry had been anticipated, even projected, for Sunday. But nothing was official until he signed his $10.8 million franchise tag.
Berry could skip training camp without being fined, and that’s what he did. One game remains in the Chiefs’ preseason — Thursday against the Green Bay Packers at Arrowhead. But Reid doesn’t expect Berry to play.
“I would probably lean against that,” Reid said. “We’ll give him time to get ready for the opener.”
The Chiefs start the regular season on Sept. 11 with a home game against the San Diego Chargers.
Reid said he met with Berry on Sunday and noticed that Berry had grown his hair longer but otherwise looked like the player who turned in his second All-Pro season in 2015.
“He had a smile on his face, he’s ready to go,” Reid said. “That’s the important thing, that we get him back in, and get him going and get him into football shape now. He’s in great shape, but just get him into football shape.”
Berry, who also earned the fourth Pro Bowl selection in his six-year career, was one of the NFL’s top stories last season when he was chosen The Associated Press’ comeback player of the year.
The previous season, Berry was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma after the team’s 10th game.
Eight months after he was diagnosed, Berry took the field with teammates at the Chiefs’ training camp in St. Joseph. His return was celebrated in Kansas City and around the NFL, and his performance was strong, finishing with 61 tackles and two interceptions, plus another pick in the playoffs.
After last season, Berry and the Chiefs couldn’t come to terms on a long-term deal, and Berry missed organized team activities and training camp.
The Chiefs continued to list Berry as the starting safety on the depth chart.
“He’s been a starter, and he’ll end up being a starter,” Reid said.
Also a leader, and Reid expects that to continue.
“He’s not a different guy than he was when he was here the last time,” Reid said. “So I’d tell you this, (teammates) are going to welcome him with open arms, and they’ll be glad he’s back. He’s one of the leaders of this team, and that part won’t change.
“The other part was business, and now it’s football. He’s ripping and ready to go.”
Berry, 27, arrives in a time of change. The Chiefs added to the secondary on Saturday, acquiring cornerback Kenneth Acker from the 49ers. Acker started 13 games last season.
The roster must be trimmed from 90 to 75 by Tuesday afternoon.
“This is a rough time,” Reid said. “Any time you let guys go who you see out there busting their butt, this isn’t the best part of the job. Hopefully some of these guys can hook on.”