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Chiefs should trade Eric Berry, Kansas City scribe says

Eric Berry is 25 years old and he's made three Pro Bowls. He's the type of player that teams usually build around, but the Kansas City Star suggests the Chiefsshould think about trading him.

Yes, this is the type of column that comes up during the quiet NFL days in April. The likelihood of the Chiefs trading Berry ranges somewhere between "extremely unlikely" and "Andy Reid fitting into his old punt, pass and kick" uniform. That doesn't mean columnist Sam Mellinger is completely off his rocker.

Mellinger recognizes that Berry is a very good player, but he believes that the safety's reputation exceeds his value to the team. (That's certainly fair when it comes to Berry's 2012 Pro Bowl appearance.) The Chiefs have salary cap problems, and Berry has primarily been used as a "box safety" in his career. Berry has a cap number of $20 million over the next two years, a huge total for someone that isn't asked to excel in coverage.

A few thoughts on Berry:

  1. The Chiefs surely want to lower Berry's cap number. Trading him is a dramatic way to do that, but a contract extension is a far more sensible approach. Berry was part of the final NFL draft class before the new CBA, so his salaries as a top-five overall draft pick are inflated. That makes working out a long-term deal complicated, but not impossible. Berry is going to want to be one of the top-paid safeties in football. He already is paid that well.
  1. Berry's ability to cover opposing tight ends is up for debate. He's had his ups and downs, but there's no denying that the Chiefs primarily look to Berry for his skills in run support. It will be interesting to see if Berry's role changes with the team's usual starting free safety Kendrick Lewis leaving via free agency. A "box safety" in the NFL is going the way of the fullback, and it's fair to argue that Berry needs to show that skill set to be paid top dollar.
  1. Mellinger believes the Chiefs could get multiple draft picks in return for Berry -- possibly a second- and third-round pick. He mentions a first-round pick as a possibility.

That doesn't seem like enough to bother trading him, and we aren't sure the Chiefs could even get that much. Teams wouldn't just be trading for Berry; they would presumably trade for him and have to give a market-setting contract.

The Chiefs' salary cap issues are significant, but there's no reason to blow up their team. Berry isn't a problem. He's the type of leader and player that you hope to find in the draft, not deal away. His contract is an unfortunate remnant of pre-CBA life, but dealing him away only creates more problems on a roster that has already lost a lot of starters.

In the latest edition of the "Around The League Podcast," the guys discuss "Draft Day," then break down who got better (and who got worse) in the AFC East.

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