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Eric Berry says he won’t play on franchise tag

NFL: AFC Divisional-Pittsburgh Steelers at Kansas City Chiefs Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The ideal free agent for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this offseason would be Eric Berry. An All-Pro safety who can play all over the field, impacts the game on every snap and fills a significant need. He’s more a strong safety than the deep safety the Bucs need most, but Berry would still be a good fit and a significant addition.

Unfortunately for the Bucs, it;’s not likely Berry will hit free agency. The Kansas City Chiefs used the franchise tag on him last year, and they’re negotiating a long-term contract. Presumably, at least, because Berry made one thing clear on NFL Network today: he’s not playing on a franchise tag again.

Which eh...might just be bluster. Players say lots of things, until their paycheck comes into play. At that point they often magically change their mind. So weird.

More notably, though, not playing on a franchise tag doesn’t mean he’ll actually hit free agency. Berry’s said repeatedly he wants to stay with the Chiefs, and there’s no reason to believe they can’t reach a long-term contract. That may not happen until the very last second, of course,

Even if Berry were to hit free agency, the Bucs may not actually go after him. While he’d be a good fit, Jason Licht does not have a history of going after top-level free agents. He tends to sign second- and third-tier guys, players who come with a cheaper price tag and less commitment. Whether that’s a good thing is debatable — his free agency results have been mixed at best — but it is what he does. Signing Berry would represent a massive break with that trend.

So yeah, Berry doesn’t want to play on a franchise tag. But he’s not exactly likely to play for the Bucs, instead. Moving on!