Chiefs defensive coordinator Bob Sutton was especially proud of a versatile Kansas City defense this season, which overcame several injuries and an extremely competitive division to earn a first-round bye.
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The unit finished seventh in points allowed, first in turnovers and first in interceptions.
Sutton pointed to some contributors “off the street” but was clear about one thing: Safety Eric Berry was the heart of the team’s wholesale jerseys, and he would love the now five-time Pro Bowler to return next season.
“Oh yeah, definitely yeah. That’s out of my wheelhouse but I mean, you’d be crazy not to (want him back),” Sutton told me this week. “I thought he had an MVP-type season. He was a dynamic force. Physically, taking the ball away. his coverage. I don’t know how much more you could do. This guy had an impact on our entire team. Not just our defense, but our entire team. That’s a trait that is hard to put a value on. You can’t quantify it but you know it’s there.”
Berry played this season under a $10.8 million franchise tag. Because he and the Chiefs could not work out a long-term deal, he did not report to camp until Aug. 28. The team could tag him again, but it would make Berry the highest-paid safety in the NFL at roughly $13 million and nearly impossible to sign after that.
Berry said recently that he and his agent had already spoken with the Chiefs, but warned that it was “early.” Chiefs head coach Andy Reid also professed a desire to have Berry back for cheap jerseys of the 2017 season (who wouldn’t?).
This is normally the way this offseason song and dance gets going. The head coach says they want the player back and the player says he’d like to return too. The coaches and front office are hoping that Berry can help them with what seems to be a tight salary-cap situation. Berry is hoping the Chiefs will pay him like the franchise player he is.
Speaking Thursday on NFL Network’s Super Bowl Live, Berry definitively rejected the notion he’d acquiesce to the tag again.
“I’m definitely not going to play under the franchise tag this year,” Berry said. “I want to end my career in Kansas City. I want to play there. I love the city, I love the vibe, I love my teammates. I really look at them more than teammates. We’ve been through a lot and they supported me a lot. And the organization. But I don’t feel comfortable playing with cheap jerseys under the franchise tag this year.”
Berry played 2016 under the $10.8 million franchise tag, but because he and the Chiefs couldn’t come to a long-term deal he didn’t report to camp until Aug. 28. If tagged again he could sit out even longer.
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“It was noteworthy when Andy Reid was non-committal to Alex Smith,” Rapoport said on NFL Network. “They’ve made a QB trade in the past, doing so for Alex Smith. They’d have to be considered sports jerseys wholesale and someone who would be a possibility.”
If the Chiefs were to trade for Romo, they would likely cut Smith, Rapoport reports, per sources informed of the situation. The roster move would cost the organization just $7 million in dead money, per Spotrac.
Another team that could land Romo is the Buffalo Bills. If Sean McDermott and the new regime in Western New York choose to release Tyrod Taylor jersey, who is due $12 million in 2017 up from $2 million in 2016, then trading for Romo would be an option.
All this speculation about possible Romo landing spots would be moot of course if the veteran quarterback settles on retirement instead of moving locales. Rapoport reports that retirement is still something that Romo is weighing.
But if Romo is ready and willing to continue his career and is open to any of these trades, it will make for a fascinating marketplace. Romo is the most risk-reward veteran QB that we’ve seen on the market since Peyton Manning jersey in 2012 and Brett Favre in 2008. Injury-prone but deadly efficient, he could make or break a contender’s season.
Whether he would actually be an upgrade over the safe-and-sure Smith or the mobile Taylor will have to be taken into account as both organizations weigh a trade for Romo.