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Retaining their own free agents will be pricey for Chiefs

Eric Berry would seem the most likely of the Chiefs' free agents to get the franchise tag. Scott Halleran/Getty Images

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Kansas City Chiefs have 10 players who were significant contributors for them last year who are potential unrestricted free agents. Two of those players participated in the recent Pro Bowl.

So the Chiefs knew they were going to have to spend big in order to retain some of not all of those free agents. That idea was reinforced with Pro Football Focus’ list of the top 75 potential free agents.

The Chiefs have seven of those players, including three of the top 21. That doesn’t even include a third Pro Bowler, linebacker Tamba Hali. The remainder of his contract voids soon, and he will certainly join PFF’s top 75 when that happens.

PFF lists the following Chiefs in its top 75: safety Eric Berry (8), cornerback Sean Smith (13), linebacker Derrick Johnson (21), defensive lineman Jaye Howard (39), safety Husain Abdullah (51), guard Jeff Allen (68) and defensive lineman Mike DeVito (71).

Berry would be a strong candidate to be named as the Chiefs’ franchise player if a long-term contract can’t be worked out with him before the tag deadline. But that would come at a cost, too. ESPN projects the franchise tag for a safety to be about $10.7 million.

That’s a bargain compared to the projected franchise number for Smith ($14.8 million for a cornerback), Johnson ($14.1 million for a linebacker) or Howard ($15.5 million or $13.4 million, depending whether he would be classified as a defensive end or tackle).

Whatever they do, the Chiefs certainly won’t be able to keep them all. They have some difficult decisions ahead about which way to proceed.