Chiefs Rumblings: Tag Berry or Poe?
By Nick Athan
Today is the first day NFL teams can place the franchise tags on their soon to be free agent superstars. For the Kansas City Chiefs, they have a pair of decisions to make. Do they tag Safety, Eric Berry, once again or use their 2017 tag on Defensive Tackle, Dontari Poe.
As the Kansas City Chiefs continue to muddle through their 2017 off-season at a snail’s pace, the organization must decide, which All Pro players will earn the franchise tag this season. Both Safety, Eric Berry and Defensive Tackle Dontari Poe, will be premium free agent signees should they be allowed to test the market.
Eric Berry – The Chiefs have attempted to work out a long-term deal with his camp. However, since Chris Ballard, left to become the GM of the Indianapolis Colts, those talks have stalled. Berry has already emphatically indicated, he’ll sit out the 2017 season, if the Chiefs place the franchise tag on him again.
The Chiefs are in a pickle when it comes to Berry. There’s no doubt his value to the locker room, and his defensive prowess on the field, remain mighty for the Chiefs defense. On the flip side, Kansas City has already paid Berry nearly $80 million to date. What true value is left for the remainder of his career, remains to be seen.
If Berry is looking for a break the bank contract, the Chiefs should just let him walk. If he’s willing to accept a three-year deal in the $35-40 million range, I say get it done. If not, the Colts, Atlanta Falcons and Tampa Bay Bucs, will be his prime suitors in March.
Dontari Poe – With the emergence of 2016 top draft pick, Chris Jones, the decision to retain Poe is less risky. However, Poe had his best season in three years in 2016, and much of that dominance, was a direct impact lining up next to Jones. I’ve stated this many times, Poe and Jones are KC’s best inside/outside defensive lineman since Gunther Cunningham was running the Chiefs defense.
To me, signing Poe is a far greater priority than signing Berry. KC’s defense is weak at inside linebacker. While KC has pass rushers, Justin Houston, Tamba Hali and Dee Ford, on the outside the middle linebacker position is a disaster.
To shore up that weakness, KC needs Poe and Jones to push back the pocket and support the run. Without Poe, I’m not sure Jones is as effective – considering the weakness at defensive end. If Jones is relied upon to be the true nose tackle this season, I’m not sure he’ll be as effective.
In 2017, KC’s defense will be facing a formidable group of quarterbacks next season, that already have the brink of the teams fate to resembling more of an 8-8 feel, than a 12-4 AFC West Champion team. Having Poe and Jones on the field together might be the difference between missing out on the post season or becoming a Wild Card contender for Kansas City.
Kansas City Royals – If there is a correlation between the Royals and Chiefs ownership, consider this as poignant as it gets. Royals Owner, David Glass understands the importance of his energized fan base. With the tragic loss of starting Pitcher, Yordano Ventura, he opened the check book allowing three major signings, made an all-in commitment to his organization.
With the addition of DH, Brandon Moss, Pitchers Jason Hammell and Travis Wood for the lump sum of $40 million over the next two years, that’s a pretty large amount of coin for a frugal owner to show the fans. Sure, some of the free spending cash had to do with the death of Ventura, but in part, Glass felt an obligation to continue to build his roster for 2017 and 2018. In other words, he’s going to try to keep the core together beyond this season.
After some slow months, General Manager, Dayton Moore, has put together a terrific off-season. On paper, the 2017 KC Royals might be the most balanced team top to bottom during his tenure in Kansas City. Now, I’m not saying the Royals have a ticket for the World Series, but they are now a playoff contender with a team that has plenty of motivation from the top of the franchise and the clubhouse.
On the flip side, the Chiefs have spent lots of money under the financial riches of the NFL but have never put a premium on spending big in free agency, Its one thing to retain your superstars, but to build a Super Bowl winner, sometimes you need to go all in to compete at the highest level in the NFL.
So far, the Chiefs have not made that commitment, and the Royals made that leap this year.
Kansas Jayhawks – With less than three minutes to go against West Virginia, and down 14 points, I turned off the Big 12 game, put my son to bed, and was ready to curse my beloved Jayhawks.
Some 10 minutes later, with my little man asleep, Kansas stormed back to tie the game against the West Virginia Mountaineers – forcing overtime. To say the result of KU’s 84-80 OT win, beyond a shock to the system, would be an understatement to even the hard-core Jayhawks faithful. The Jayhawks aura embodies the College Basketball spirt at a level that defines them as the greatest Blue Blood program in college basketball today.
Yes, North Carolina, Duke, Kentucky and UCLA are still on the gold standard level, but Kansas Jayhawks basketball, has taken on a life of its own since Bill Self was hired a decade ago. KU’s head coach, with a bag of riches from the university, understands the 2016 version of his team lacks depth, can go cold stone flat shooting the rock, and might be out-rebounded by double digits, every time he plays a game this season.
Despite their overall flaws, he also has a team, that can close a 14-point gap with less than three minutes to go, against one of the best teams in the country. But what occurred Monday night in Lawrence, was beyond special.
Kansas has as good a chance as any of the Blue Bloods to cut down the nets in April as 2017 NCAA champions. It’s been nearly ten years since, Mario Chalmers three-point dagger, catapulted Lawrence into a frenzy since the Danny Manning years.
If that happens again this season, we all might look back at the West Virginia game as the defining moment that ignited their current national championship run.