ST. JOSEPH, Mo. – The Kansas City Chiefs and Eric Berry had more than four months to come to an agreement on a long-term contract after the team named the Pro Bowl safety as their 2016 franchise player. The talks failed to produce a multiyear contract by the July 15 deadline.
Berry remains unsigned and is not at training camp.
The sides can try some more after this season ends, but if they couldn’t get it done this year, what reason is there to believe it can happen in 2017?
I asked that question to Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt, who watched the training camp practice on Saturday. All he could say is that the Chiefs would try.
“Every year is different," Hunt said. “We couldn’t close the gap this year but next year is a different situation. I can’t say there will be anything fundamentally that happens that would make it possible, but it’s certainly something we’ll talk about."
The Chiefs and Berry can’t negotiate a long-term contract until the season is over. If Berry plays this season, it will be under the one-year deal worth about $10.8 million that the Chiefs are obligated to offer Berry as their franchise player.
It’s possible the sides could find some common ground and reach a deal next year. But that might require one side or the other to capitulate. It’s difficult to find a reason why either would do so when neither would this year.
“We were disappointed to not be able to reach a long-term contract with Eric," Hunt said. “He’s somebody we think very highly of. He’s been a great player on the field and does so much in the community. He’s a team leader. We certainly look forward to having him part of the team in 2016. As soon as we have an opportunity next year we’ll sit down with his reps and see if we can work out a scenario where he can finish his career here."
Hunt also said general manager John Dorsey consulted with him before the draft about the possibility the Chiefs would pick wide receiver Tyreek Hill. The Chiefs did in the fifth round pick Hill, who is on probation in Oklahoma after pleading guilty to charges of domestic assault and battery by strangulation in an incident involving his then-pregnant girlfriend.
“Domestic violence is a very serious issue," Hunt said. “It’s never OK. I knew there would be people who would be concerned about it. But I also felt confidence John and his staff had done a very good job of evaluating Tyreek and thought he could come in here and fit in with the team and fit in with the community.
“In the three months that he’s been here, he’s done everything that’s been asked of him."