KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The league-wide deadline to sign franchise players to long-term deals arrived Friday afternoon without a major development out of One Arrowhead Drive.
The Chiefs failed to have a multiyear contract accomplished with safety Eric Berry, a source confirmed with The Topeka Capital-Journal and ChiefsDigest.com. The source spoke on the condition of anonymity because the Chiefs did not announce the results of contract talks.
Rand Getlin of the NFL Network was the first to report the news, among other media outlets.
The Chiefs later released a statement, acknowledging the inability to work out a deal with Berry’s agent.
“Unfortunately, we were unable to reach a long-term agreement with Eric’s representatives before today’s deadline,” general manager John Dorsey said in the statement. “Although both sides would have preferred a different outcome, Eric is a true professional and a tremendous football player, and we know that he will continue to be a leader in our locker room. We look forward to resuming our discussions on a long-term agreement when the negotiating window reopens after the season.”
In the absence of a multiyear deal, Berry can now only sign the one-year, $10.8 million franchise tag for the 2016 season.
The Chiefs must wait for the end of 2016 regular season to work on a multiyear deal with Berry, who is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent in 2017.
The Chiefs currently have $226,818 in cap space, according to the NFLPA, and that total represents the least amount in the league. A new deal between Berry and the Chiefs before Friday’s deadline would have freed up cap space.
Whether Berry, who did not attend voluntary organized team activities (OTAs) and mandatory minicamp, chooses to report for training camp remains to be seen.
Berry, a seventh-year pro, can choose to delay signing the franchise tender before reporting in time for the regular season.
The last time Kansas City had that scenario with a franchise player occurred in 2012 with then-Chiefs wide receiver Dwayne Bowe, who signed his tender after training camp.
Berry, 27, originally entered the league out of Tennessee as the fifth overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft.
In the past season, Berry overcame Hodgkin lymphoma less than a year removed from the diagnosis to become one of the league’s top stories in 2015.
Berry appeared in all 16 regular-season games with 15 starts. His 61 tackles (55 solo) ranked third on the Chiefs and he added two interceptions and 10 passes defensed.
He was selected first-team All-Pro and the NFL Comeback Player of the Year by The Associated Press.