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Posts tagged with "Eric Berry"

Jan 15, 2017; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs strong safety Eric Berry (29) reacts to a play during the first half in the AFC Divisional playoff game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Arrowhead Stadium. The Steelers won 18-16. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

The Cleveland Browns have the money to fill an important position on defense if Pro Bowl safety Eric Berry enters free agency in March.

The Cleveland Browns have major holes in their secondary, most notably at the safety position.

Things got so bad at the position during 2016, with Jordan Poyer going down with a season-ending injury and Ibraheim Campbell carrying on the tradition of Ray Farmer draft picks, that the Browns had to turn to 33-year-old cornerback Tramon Williams later in the season.

 The Browns could have an opportunity to make a major upgrade at the position when free agency opens next month.

Kansas City Chiefs safety Eric Berry is rumored to be heading toward free agency after playing last season under the franchise tag, a situation that did not sit well with him and he made clear will not repeat itself this year.

“I’m out, I’m out … I’m out,” Berry told The Kansas City Star about his plans if the Chiefs try to franchise tag him again. “I’m just prepared mentally and emotionally to do what I need to do.”

Berry has spent his entire career with the Chiefs, making five Pro Bowls and being named first team All-Pro three times. According to Pro Football Focus:

Berry continues to be one of the best cover safeties in the NFL, and if he hits free agency, there will be a lot of teams looking for him to come lock down their secondary. Berry has coverage earned grades of 92.1, 84.9, and 85.9 his past three seasons (not including his injury-riddled 2014 season). He rarely messes up his deep-coverage zones, and is a huge reason why quarterbacks have a passer rating of just 82.4 when throwing against the Chiefs. Berry isn’t a liability in the run game, either, as his 11 run stops rank eighth among all safeties this season.

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Eric Berry is one of the most exciting defensive players I have ever watched play football. He really needs no introduction around this part of the country since most of us (even non-UT fans) have been following his career since he picked off Tim Tebow and returned it 96 yards for a touchdown

It would be the first of 14 interceptions of his college career which resulted in 494 interception return yards, finishing just 7 yards short of Terrell Buckley’s NCAA record 501 career interception return yards. Fun Fact: Kevin Byard checks in at #14 on that list with 377 career interception return yards. Berry wasn’t “just” an interception machine though. He was a big hitter and sure tackler who seemed to fly around the field like a guided missile.

Both safety positions for the Titans have been in a state of change the last few seasons. After being a staple of the Titans defense for 9 years, Michael Griffin was released after the 2015 season, and replaced by a combination of Rashad Johnson and Kevin Byard in 2016. The Titans signed Da’Norris Searcy two years ago to lock down the other safety spot, but after spending 2015 as the full time starter he ended up on the short end of a rotation with Daimion Stafford this past season.

Most fans and analysts believe that Byard will be a long term starter for the Titans at one safety spot based on his excellent rookie season. One of the best aspects of Byard’s rookie year was that he showed the ability to play both the deep, traditional free safety role and the in-the-box traditional strong safety role meaning the Titans have a lot of flexibility with regards to the “type” of safety that they could consider playing next to him. Ideally I would like to see another do-it-all type guy next to Byard so we can more easily hide our schemes based on alignment. Who that other safety is moving forward is less certain. Johnson and Stafford are both unrestricted free agents this offseason so there is no guarantee that either of those guys will be back with the Titans in 2017. Searcy isn’t a major liability on the field, but he hasn’t played to the level of being the 5th highest paid strong safety in the NFL over the past two years. If the Titans have a shot at a guy like Berry, Searcy could be released to offset $4.5M of the new safety’s salary in 2017 and over $6M of his salary in 2018. I will talk more about the likelihood of Berry actually becoming available later, but let’s get to know a little more about his professional career first.

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