Chiefs safety Berry reporting to camp Sunday
Kansas City, Mo. — All-Pro safety Eric Berry plans to report to the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday, giving him two weeks and one preseason game to prepare for the start of the regular season.
A person familiar with his plans told the Associated Press that Berry will join the team after its exhibition game Saturday in Chicago. The person spoke on condition of anonymity Friday because he was not authorized to discuss Berry’s plans publicly.
Berry was given the franchise tag early in the offseason but has not signed the deal, which means he could skip all of training camp without being fined. Once he signs the one-year contract, he will make just over $10.8 million, making him the league’s highest-paid safety.
Chiefs coach Andy Reid and general manager John Dorsey have said all along they expect Berry to report ahead of the regular season, but it was never clear when that might happen.
Kansas City plays its first regular-season game Sept. 11 against San Diego.
“I think it’s important to see what kind of shape he is in and then gradually bring him back into the football speed of things,” Reid said Tuesday, when asked what Berry will need to do to get up to speed. “I don’t think it’s the end of the world if he doesn’t play in the last preseason game.
“The most important thing is to put eyes on him and see what kind of shape he is in,” Reid said, “so we don’t put him at risk out there.”
The Chiefs had hoped to sign Berry to a long-term deal in the offseason, but the two sides were never close to reaching an agreement by the July 15 deadline. The Chiefs remain optimistic they can sign him after this season, though Berry will demand a premium on the free-agent market.
It was somewhat surprising that the sides were so far apart, given the goodwill between them.
The Chiefs stood by Berry when he was diagnosed with lymphoma, and Dorsey and others in the front office regularly visited him in Atlanta during treatment. Meanwhile, Berry has been steadfast in his love for the Chiefs, who made him a first-round pick out of Tennessee.
“It’s a weird dynamic that you are juggling with finances and playing,” Reid said earlier in camp, “but I’ve seen it before, guys normally come in and they just go. When it’s time to play, they just play. They put the business side aside and they get after it.”
Berry played in every game last season, less than a year after his cancer diagnosis. He made 55 tackles, had a pair of interceptions and resumed his role as the heart and soul of the defense.
“We’re missing him right now — we want him back ASAP,” cornerback Marcus Peters said, “but we can’t do anything about it, but we for sure miss him.”