ST. JOSEPH, Mo. – Kansas City Chiefs rookies, quarterbacks and select players reported for training camp Tuesday four days in advance of veterans.
But uncertainty surrounds if Eric Berry, who hasn’t signed a one-year, $10.8 million franchise tender, will be among the group of veteran players arriving Friday afternoon.
“Whether he’s here or not, I can’t answer that,” coach Andy Reid said Tuesday. “I know there’s a report out there that he’s not going to be here. I’ve always said we’ll coach the guys that are here.
“But, from my standpoint on Eric Berry – and the organization’s standpoint – is he’s a huge part of this, and so I’m hoping that he’s here. If he’s not, I understand that, too.”
Reid said he and Berry have shared text messages since the Chiefs failed to get a multiyear deal done by the league-wide deadline on July 15.
Despite the communication, the head coach didn’t have any indication of Berry’s intent when it came to reporting on time.
“I don’t know that,” Reid said. “I don’t know if he’s going to be here or not.”
By not having a long-term deal in place with Berry, the Chiefs will need to wait until the end of the season to negotiate a multiyear contract with Berry’s agent.
Should Berry choose to hold out of training camp, the Chiefs can’t fine him because he hasn’t signed the tender. Berry can choose to report and sign the tender after camp and earn the full $10.8 million tender, provided it occurs before the start of the regular season.
The last time the Chiefs had a franchise player hold out of training camp occurred in 2012 with wide receiver Dwayne Bowe, who eventually signed his one-year tender after training camp.
Regardless of the circumstances surrounding the contract situation, Reid drew on experience and didn’t appear overly concerned.
“I’ve been doing this a few years, so I know how things go,” said Reid, who enters his 17th season as an NFL head coach. “It will all work out one way of another and he’s going to continue to be a heck of a football player for us, so we look forward to getting him back in here.”
Quarterback Alex Smith said he hasn’t spoken to Berry in “a while,” but echoed Reid on what Berry means to the team.
“He’s the heart and soul of this team, one of the keystones,” Smith said. “He’s one of our main leaders in the locker room, on the field. It’s tough to put in words how much he does mean to this team.
“I’ve been around long enough, this stuff happens. I’m confident it will get worked out however it does, whenever it does, and then when he does get here I’m very confident Eric will be ready.”
Berry overcame Hodgkin lymphoma the past season, less than a year after being diagnosed. He missed all of the offseason workouts before reporting for training camp, and then went on to appear in all 16 regular-season games (15 starts), totaling 61 tackles (55 solo), two interceptions and 10 passes defensed.
The effort earned Berry numerous postseason accolades, including a first-team All-Pro selection and being named the NFL Comeback Player of the Year by The Associated Press.