Once regarded as one of the best defensive players in all of football, former Kansas City Chiefs safety Eric Berry remains unsigned. Will he play in the NFL again, or is this the end?
Training camp is beginning. Rosters are coming into focus. Eric Berry remains a free agent.
Berry’s pedigree and resume are no longer working in his favor like they used to. Compiling 367 tackles, 51 passes defended and 14 interceptions in 86 games with the Chiefs from 2010-16, he played himself into a six-year, $78 million contract in Feb. 2017. Once his durability became a gigantic question mark, Kansas City designated Berry as a post-June 1 cut earlier this year.
The five-time Pro Bowler isn’t the only safety who’s worthy of a spot on an NFL team, yet remains without a home. Tre Boston finds himself in a similar situation. The difference between the two is Berry was once one of the best players in the entire league. As recently as the 2016 season, the former Tennessee Volunteer started 16 games and qualified for the Pro Bowl. What went wrong?
Since that impressive 2016-17 campaign, Berry has played in just three regular season games. Missing 15 games of the 2017 season with a torn Achilles tendon and battling a heel injury on-and-off for the entirety of the following year, the injury bug bit Berry harder than most players. The nature of his latest heel ailment led to his health being a week-to-week ordeal for much of this past season and despite that, he and his camp elected to decline surgery once the season ended.
Although he conducted a visit with the Dallas Cowboys in March, Berry left without agreeing to a contract. It was rumored that he’d go on to visit with other teams but confirmed reports about said meetings are nowhere to be found. Momentum surrounding both his level of interest drawn as a free agent and his relatively clean bill of health has slowed since it gained significant steam during that near-spring time period.
The situation has reached a new low in terms of optimism for the future, as some sites are urging teams to stay away from signing the 30-year-old:
Speaking of age, Berry will turn 31 near the end of the 2019 season. That’s far from ancient, but it’s certainly over the hill for the majority of NFL safeties — especially ones that have been injured for nearly two full years. His athletic decline could come sooner rather than later given the extensive damage to his heel/Achilles area. As there hasn’t been a 100 percent clear answer as to how healthy he truly is, this ambiguity could be what’s holding teams back from pulling the trigger on Berry.
With the flurry of annual training camp signings upon us, could a one-year ‘prove it’ deal could be in Berry’s future, or is this it for one of the greatest defensive players of the decade?
There’s still time for Eric Berry to latch on with a team and resurrect his career. With that said, the chances of that happening are becoming slimmer and slimmer with each passing day.