According to NFL Media’s Jim Trotter, the Indianapolis Colts have internally discussed signing former Kansas City Chiefs safety, now free agent Eric Berry, and are considered his “most likely landing spot”:
“Now one of the things I’m hearing is that a team that may be the most likely landing spot for him is the Indianapolis Colts,” Trotter said. “I reached out to Colts GM Chris Ballard yesterday, and he declined to comment on it, but I have been told that there at least have been discussions.”
“One of Berry’s best friends is Justin Houston, his former teammate in Kansas City, who’s now with the Colts,” Trotter added.
Originally the 5th overall pick of the 2010 NFL Draft, Berry became one of the league’s best safeties in Kansas City—as he was a 3x First-Team All-Pro and 5x Pro Bowler.
However, he has largely missed all of the last three seasons, having suffered a season-ending torn Achilles in 2017—which led to a subsequent year-ending heel complication in 2018, and he sat out all of last season (2019) trying to fully recover and get his body right.
Trotter noted that Berry admittedly came back from the Achilles injury too early in 2018, but after working out all of last year, has seen his tape, and “he looks great”.
Even with veteran safety Clayton Geathers unlikely to be re-signed, the Colts have a pair of promising young starting safeties: Malik Hooker and Khari Willis.
Given Hooker’s lingering durability concerns (and the Colts use of three safeties in nickel packages), it may not be a bad idea for the Colts to add insurance with a reliable third safety behind them.
That being said, Berry is now 31 years old, coming off a torn Achilles, and has hardly played any meaningful football snaps over the past three years.
No one doubts his leadership and toughness.
The former Chiefs captain overcame Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 2014 and went on to win NFL Comeback Player of the Year in 2015—as he once again shined on the field for Kansas City—as a beloved star in their locker room.
General manager Chris Ballard is obviously familiar with Berry—having previously served as a Chiefs football operations executive before joining Indianapolis.
Ballard stated earlier this offseason that the Colts also missed the leadership of veteran defensive tackle Al Woods and safety Mike Mitchell in their locker room, as while the locker room chemistry was still very strong, no veteran was there to hold other players accountable and put their feet to the fire when necessary.
Purely from that standpoint, maybe Berry makes some sense for the Colts.
However, it’s hard to envision the Colts keeping Berry as a backup safety, when he offers little to no value on special teams at this stage of his career—although maybe new CBA negotiations regarding the number of active players on game day could potentially change that.
Currently, backup safeties generally have to be able to play special teams on Sunday.
Now 31, given that Berry hasn’t played meaningful football in such a long time, is coming off a significant injury, and the Colts don’t have a glaring on-the-field need, this seems like a longshot to actually happen.
However, from a veteran leadership perspective, it makes some sense for the Colts—if Berry has any gas left in the tank.