KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Eric Berry is arguably the Chiefs’ biggest soon-to-be unrestricted free agent when the league’s calendar begins on March 9.
And the Chiefs have had early dialogue with Berry’s agent with hopes to potentially keep the All-Pro safety with the team.
“I’ve had various discussions with his representatives,” general manager John Dorsey said Thursday in a conference call with Chiefs beat writers, “and we will continue to have conversations with his representatives.”
Dorsey, who made his first media address since the 2015 season started, didn’t get into the specifics of the talks with Berry’s camp.
But Berry isn’t the only player scheduled to hit the open market as a free agent.
Kansas City has at least 14 players with expiring contracts, including cornerback Sean Smith, linebacker Derrick Johnson, defensive end Jaye Howard, defensive end Mike DeVito, guard Jeff Allen, offensive tackle Donald Stephenson, backup quarterback Chase Daniel and safeties Husain Abdullah and Tyvon Branch, among others.
The list reflects major contributors from the past season, and in the case of Johnson, a long-time contributor to the organization. The group also doesn’t include outside linebacker Tamba Hali, a 10th-year pro whose contract could be voided after the Super Bowl.
The Chiefs are projected to have $32 million in cap space, according to Spotrac.com. And that total provides ample room for the Chiefs to either take care of their own or be active in free agency.
While Dorsey isn’t one to get into what he calls the “business side of football,” the general manager said he will have the team’s best interest in mind when it comes to who potentially returns.
“What I want to do is I want to do what’s best for this organization in terms of long-term approach,” Dorsey said. “With that being said, I think the first step is that we have to do a little self-evaluation with regards to the team and how we look moving forward.
“I think together, we have to sit down and develop our plan as we move forward. I don’t think right now is the time to say we’re going to be this, this or this. Right now, I’d like to say we’re going to do what’s in the best interest of the organization moving forward.”
Kansas City has another tool at its disposal if a player is deemed valuable enough to prevent from hitting the open market, specifically the franchise tag.
The period to designate a franchise player is Feb. 16 and closes March 1, and Dorsey indicated he hasn’t decided if that is a route the Chiefs will go with any of the pending free agents.
“You know what, I would like to assess every situation,” Dorsey said. “I haven’t played the assessment game, where I can go and assess every different option available yet, so I haven’t really done that yet. I will do that here within the next five to seven days, and I can give you a more concrete answer on that.”