Free-agency season has ended an era of Chiefs defense.
With the release of Eric Berry on Wednesday, the three most decorated defensive players on the roster are gone.
Outside linebacker Justin Houston, chosen to four Pro Bowl teams and once an All-Pro, was released. Linebacker Dee Ford, the team’s only defensive player selected to the Pro Bowl team last season, was traded to and signed with the San Francisco 49ers.
Now, Berry, one of the most popular players in recent Chiefs history, is moving on. Berry is a five-time Pro Bowler, three-time All-Pro and was chosen NFL Comeback Player of the Year in 2015 after recovering from Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
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Berry had been with the Chiefs for nine seasons, Houston for eight and Ford for five. Also gone is cornerback Steven Nelson, who signed a three-year, $25.5 million deal with the Steelers.
It hasn’t been all exit ramp for the Chiefs’ defense. They’ve acquired safety Tyrann Mathieu on a three-year, $42 million deal and are expected to sign Cowboys linebacker Damien Wilson as a free agent.
More movement is likely, but one thing is certain. New defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo will shape a unit without some of the team’s most veteran and honored recent players.
Starters remaining: Allen Bailey*, Derrick Nnadi, Chris Jones
Backups remaining: Justin Hamilton, Xavier Williams
Player acquired: Damien Wilson
Starters gone: Justin Houston, Dee Ford
Starters remaining: Reggie Ragland, Anthony Hitchens
Backups remaining: Tanoh Kpassagnon, Dorian O’Daniel, Ben Niemann, Breeland Speaks, Frank Zombo*, Terrance Smith**
Player acquired: Tyrann Mathieu
Starters gone: Steven Nelson, Eric Berry
Starters remaining: Kendall Fuller, Daniel Sorensen
Backups remaining: Tremon Smith, Charvarius Ward, Leon McQuay, Eric Murray, Jordan Lucas**, Orlando Scandrick*, Armani Watts***
*unrestricted free agents; **restricted free agents; ***was injured at end of 2018 season