I’m posted up live from the NFL Combine and as you might imagine, there’s a ton going on. In fact, in a couple hours the quarterbacks here — including Chiefs Twitter favorites Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes II — will be speaking to the media.
For you #BallWatchers out there, I’m working on story about the quarterbacks and where the Chiefs stand, so be on the lookout for that. Also check out the other stories I’ve filed from the combine, including on Jamaal Charles’ release (which the Chiefs maintain was difficult, despite the ongoing disconnect over his health), Dontari Poe’s pending free agency and Travis Kelce’s recent shoulder surgery.
Also, the combine lasts through Sunday and I’ll be here the whole time, so … more football! And work (at least, for me). So while I obviously have a ton to do today, there ain’t nuthin’ — and The Rock means, nuthin’ — that can ever compare to being The People’s Champ.
Hence, a Combine mailbag that I hope answers some of your Chiefs questions.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Kansas City Star
First off, Eric Berry never wanted to leave Kansas City. And he is dead set on winning a Super Bowl here. He just wanted to be paid what he deserved, which he deemed a matter of respect. Understand that to players, money equals respect. And if we’re being honest, that applies to all of us, in every line of work.
So did the Chiefs cave? Not necessarily. Sure, they handed Berry a six-year, $78 million contract less than a year after negotiations went absolutely nowhere. That’s a big jump to make.
But the Chiefs made Berry prove it this year, and he did just that with a second consecutive All-Pro season in which he also emerged as the clear alpha dog in the locker room. The Chiefs (rightly) decided they couldn’t risk losing that, so if they paid him what he was worth — just like they did with Justin Houston two years ago.
In retrospect, it’s clear Eric Berry was never going to be allowed to test free agency. If they couldn’t have hammered out a deal, he would have been franchised Wednesday. Your boy Olympic Melo Mellinger had a smart column about how the Chiefs ended up paying more than they otherwise would have by making Berry sing for his supper. In my opinion, that might be why the event that led to the next question happened.
The Chiefs believe Duvernay-Tardif has Pro Bowl talent. He’s a good athlete, he’s strong and he’s nasty. They see him as an ascending player who will be really good when he fully acquires the awareness and understanding of angles that only more football will provide. By the way, he just turned 26.
That said, LDT has at least four to five more years of really good football ahead of him, provided he continues to improve. At this time, he’s not a top-five guard in the league, though he is paid like one. But the Chiefs believe he will get there, and instead of allowing him to have the Houston-Berry Honorary Contract Season in 2017 and drive up his value, they decided to lock him up through his prime with a deal that only adds about $860,000 to his 2017 cap number. It’s a good move … provided they’re correct about his continued improvement. Time will tell.
I’ve seen some tweets about this possibility. In case you missed it this week, Manziel linked up with his first NFL agent, Erik Burkhardt, and NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport tweeted that teams are interested in Manziel, who is supposedly cleaning up his act.
Now, would the Chiefs be among those teams? Well, I’m sure they do their due diligence on everyone. John Dorsey takes pride in scouring America (and Canada, in LDT’s case) for talent. And after the Chiefs took Tyreek Hill last year, I don’t think you can ever truly rule a guy out here. Both Andy Reid and Dorsey believe in second chances, and Manziel displayed gumption, playmaking ability and arm strength in college. There’s talent there, and I remember seeing him flash it against the Chiefs in December 2015.
However, Dorsey and Reid also trust their ability to ferret out phonies from the bunch, and they won’t take gambles unless they’re absolutely certain the benefits outweigh the risks. Manziel would need to prove to both of them, though his actions, that he’s cleaned up his act and would be worth the distraction that would inevitably come to Kansas City (via the national media).
So at this point I’d say the odds are certainly against that happening.
I’ve seen a few questions about this. Marshall is a competitor and I really like him as a player, but the Chiefs already have enough guys who need the rock. Travis Kelce had a big year, but it came at the expense of Jeremy Maclin. And Tyreek Hill, with his rare explosiveness, actually needs more offensive touches. Throw in the steady number of passes that will always go to a running back in Andy Reid’s offense, and the Chiefs shouldn’t be in the market for another mouth to feed.
I’ve reported that the Chiefs remain interested in retaining Poe, and that is indeed the case. They want to bring him back, but they probably have a “right” number in mind for a key player and valued part of the locker room, albeit one who has had back issues. They can definitely create enough cap room to retain Poe, if the numbers are sensible.
But Poe is only 26, and he posted a career-high in pressures last season with nine. It’s hard to find interior linemen who can play the run and push the pocket, and it’s always possible that a team out there is desperate enough to gamble on his back in hopes of getting typical Poe production in 2017. As Dorsey is fond of saying, he’ll have to see what happens. Teams can begin negotiating with other team’s free agents on March 7.