Chiefs release five-time Pro Bowl safety Eric Berry
The Baltimore Ravens adding safety Earl Thomas in free agency shows that this squad isn’t rebuilding. Can they challenge the Browns in the AFC North?
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The market for safeties was loaded during the free agency tampering window before a flurry of deals were negotiated. Then, within 15 minutes of the new league year officially starting on Wednesday, a new one became available.
The Kansas City Chiefs announced that they have released safety Eric Berry.
“On behalf of my family and the entire Chiefs organization, I want to thank Eric for his many contributions to the Chiefs over the last nine seasons,” Chiefs owner Clark Hunt said Wednesday in a statement. “Eric has been a tremendous leader for our football team and an inspiration to so many fans over the years, and we sincerely appreciate all that he has meant to the Chiefs. He will always be an important part of our Chiefs family, and we wish him nothing but the best in the future.”
Berry had been the market-setter at the position in the NFL, earning an average of $13 million per season, before former Giants safety Landon Collins signed a six-year, $84 million contract to join the Washington Redskins.
The release was prompted, in part, by the decision of the Chiefs to sign former Houston Texans safety Tyrann Mathieu to a three-year, $42 million deal.
Berry, 30, played all nine of his seasons in Kansas City and became one of the defense’s key players and leaders. He was a five-time Pro Bowl player and a three-time all-pro selection.
“I’d like to thank Eric for his contributions to our team and the Kansas City community over the last nine years,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said in a statement. “Seeing his passion and watching his love for the game has been truly remarkable. He’s a special person, and we wish him the best as his career moves forward.”
Berry was diagnosed in Dec. 2014 with Hodgkin lymphoma. He recovered before returning to the field for the following season. For his efforts that year, he earned the Associated Press’ comeback player of the year award.
In his nine seasons with the Chiefs, Berry totaled 445 tackles, 5.5 sacks, 50 passes defended, 14 interceptions, three forced fumbles, and five touchdowns.
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“We continually evaluate every aspect of our football team and we came to the decision that it was in our best interest to release Eric,” Chiefs general manager Brett Veach said in a statement. “Knowing what Eric has meant to this organization and this city made this an incredibly difficult decision. We wish him nothing but the best.”
Follow Lorenzo Reyes on Twitter @LorenzoGReyes.
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