Former Tennessee Volunteers safety Eric Berry was released by the Kansas City Chiefs earlier this year. But why has no pro football team signed him yet?
When a five-time Pro Bowl safety who is only 30 years old is released, he usually has a few teams out there to sign with. That should be the case for Tennessee football legend Eric Berry, who was released back in March.
However, NFL training camp has started, and Berry still does not have a contract. It makes sense that some teams would hesitate to sign him. After all, he suffered season-ending injuries in 2011 and 2017, the last of which stretched through almost all of 2018. He then had to sit out the end of 2014 to recover from lymphoma.
Taking all that into account, there are clearly health concerns. But Eric Berry has been an All-Pro safety every full season he has played. He is a leader and an inspiration given the fact that he beat lymphoma to be Comeback Player of the Year in 2015. And the former two-time All-American and Jim Thorpe Award winner in college should have a few good years left.
So what’s the deal with Berry now? Why is he still a free agent? He apparently has a clean bill of health. But not only are teams not calling. There are actually reasons for not taking Berry that people covering and rooting for other teams are bringing up.
Most notably, on Da Windy City, the Chicago Bears FanSided page, John-Mark Mallory called for the Bears not to sign Berry despite their issues right now at safety. He said he sees Berry’s Achilles injury in 2017 as the one that ended his career, noting that he was supposed to make a comeback in 2018 but was day-to-day pretty much all year.
Meanwhile, Matt Tabeek of www.atlantafalcons.com said in a Q&A last Wednesday that he doesn’t think the Atlanta Falcons will add Berry unless something disastrous happens. He noted Berry’s asking price could be too high and said, despite his leadership and story, that he’s not so sure the safety would be a good fit for his hometown team.
When you see all these stories, you begin to understand why Jordan Foote of NFL FanSided has an article beginning to question whether or not Berry is done. He does note, however, Berry’s meeting with the Dallas Cowboys back in March.
And that’s where we get back to what’s going on with Eric Berry. A June article by Mike Fisher of 247Sports suggested that the Cowboys had no interest in signing Berry. But that came after a tweet from Blogging the Boys about NFL insider Ian Rappaport saying the Cowboys would still be in the mix for Berry. There’s still that meeting that happened in March as well.
All this evidence puts Dallas at the top of the list. Avery Duncan of clutchpoints.com predicted he would land there, and Brent Sobleski of Bleacher Report also named the Cowboys when he came to Berry on his list of top free agents. Both noted he would be a big upgrade over Jeff Heath, and Duncan added that Berry could play nickel at a minimum if he’s now limited on what he can do.
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This makes the Cowboys still a clear favorite to land him. Then there’s the Cleveland Browns. Jake Burns wrote in Cleveland.com earlier this month why it makes sense for Cleveland, which has already loaded up on stars, to go after Berry. Simply put, like Dallas, Cleveland has a ton of star power but needs safety help.
Since Berry has a track record of coming back from injury, is a proven talent, and likely would want to land with a playoff team or potential playoff team, it’s surprising that one of these places haven’t landed him yet. However, there is that real possibility that he is asking for too much money.
In fact, that’s the only thing that makes complete sense at this point. Berry has time to find the right fit, and at this moment, it can’t hurt to continue to ask for as much money as possible as long as he stays in shape. When camp’s over, he can lower his asking price if need be and sign with a team being able to have skipped camp. It’s a win-win.
Eric Berry is one of the greatest stars in Tennessee football history. He has made Vol fans proud throughout his tenure in the NFL. But now, entering his 10th season, his career is in limbo. He should have enough left in the tank to be effective, so keep paying attention to his free agency throughout the next month.