INDIANAPOLIS – Chiefs general manager John Dorsey addressed the media Wednesday at the NFL Scouting Combine and touched on a variety of subjects.
One of the biggest topics, however, surrounded the Chiefs’ negotiations with safety Eric Berry, who is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent on March 9.
Dorsey provided optimism that a deal could be done.
“Eric’s agent and I have had really good discussions the last couple of weeks,” Dorsey said. “We will continue to build on those discussions as we speak.”
The momentum could carry in the coming days when Dorsey and Berry’s camp sit down for another meeting.
“I’m scheduled to meet with him this weekend in Indianapolis and it’s a process,” Dorsey said. “It will continually move on and we’ll see what happens when we get to that time.”
Berry comes off an All-Pro season and was recognized as the NFL Comeback Player of the Year after returning to football less than a year removed from being diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma.
He appeared in all 16 regular-season games with 15 starts, totaling 61 tackles (55 solo), two interceptions and 10 passes defensed.
The Chiefs in all likelihood prefer to have a deal done to prevent Berry from testing the open market, and have a tool to utilize if necessary.
Since Dorsey arrived in Kansas City, the Chiefs have used the franchise tag twice on offensive tackle Branden Albert in 2013 and outside linebacker Justin Houston in 2015.
“I’ve used the franchise tag in the past and it’s not out of the possibility to use it again,” Dorsey said. “It all depends on how certain things go in the process. You always want to have something in your pocket and I can use that.”
The deadline to designate a franchise player is March 1.
Kansas City has 14 players scheduled to become unrestricted free agents: Berry, inside linebacker Derrick Johnson, cornerback Sean Smith, guard Jeff Allen, defensive end Jaye Howard, quarterback Chase Daniel, offensive tackle Donald Stephenson, wide receiver Jason Avant, safety Husain Abdullah, safety Tyvon Branch, defensive end Mike DeVito, outside linebacker Frank Zombo, cornerback Jamell Fleming and outside linebacker Dezman Moses.
JOHNSON ON RADAR
Add inside linebacker Derrick Johnson to the list of players the Chiefs are interested in keeping.
Dorsey said he met with Johnson’s agent three days ago and the process of negotiating a potential return will continue.
“We’re going to move this thing forward,” Dorsey said. “Any time you become the all-time leading tackler for the Chiefs, we’re not going to let good football players go in this thing.”
The 33-year-old Johnson established the team’s all-time tackles record in Week 3 against the Green Bay Packers. Johnson finished the season with 116 tackles (95 solo), giving him 1,101 tackles on his career.
Coach Andy Reid is not in Indianapolis after undergoing knee replacement surgery, but the Chiefs got creative to deal with the absence of his physical presence during player interviews.
“What we’ve done in terms of the player interviews, this year what we’ve done is we’ve worked out a system where he’ll be able to see the interviews,” Dorsey said. “What we could’ve done, I wanted to see if he wanted to do FaceTime here, but I don’t think he’d like that FaceTime thing.”
Even without Reid, the Chiefs should be fine scouting players when considering the continuity of the staff.
“We’ve been in this program for four years, we built this thing and we understand from a personnel standpoint what the coaches want in specific players,” Dorsey said. “And I think the coaching staff understands what we want from a personnel side and we mesh together, we understand each other and we trust each other. I don’t think the process has changed one bit.”
While the Chiefs are using technology to ensure Reid views the interviews, it doesn’t replace the human feel.
“I miss having Andy here and here’s why – because what’s nice when we sit down in the 60-player interview room, it’s always nice to have him there,” Dorsey said. “He does a nice job of just understanding players, what their worth is.”