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Eric Berry released by Kansas City Chiefs

Eric Berry, Chiefs

The Kansas City Chiefs’ aggressive overhaul of a defense that cost the team a chance to win its first Super Bowl since 1963 continues. According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, Kansas City has released stalwart safety Eric Berry.

This development comes on the heels of the Chiefs signing free agent safety Tyrann Mathieu to three-year, $42 million contract. Though some believed that general manager Brett Veach had plans to pair the star safeties in the defensive backfield, a move that would have made sense given the rare versatility of each player, Kansas City ultimately decided committing nearly $27 million to one position wasn’t its best allocation of financial resources.

Berry’s health and availability concerns certainly had something to do with this decision, too. The 30-year-old played in just two regular season games last season while dealing with nagging heel pain that also caused him to miss the Chiefs’ win over the Indianapolis Colts in the second round of the playoffs. He played in the AFC Championship game against the New England Patriots, totaling six tackles in a 37-31 overtime loss. The Patriots converted three third-and-longs on their game-winning touchdown drive to open the extra period.

Berry appeared in just one game in 2017 after tearing his Achilles tendon in the season opener. He’d previously missed more than half of the 2014 season after being diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a disease he beat in time to return for the 2015 season, earning Pro Bowl and First Team All-Pro honors.

The Chiefs, who finished second-to-last in yards allowed last season, released veteran edge defender Justin Houston earlier this week, and traded star pass-rusher Dee Ford to the San Francisco 49ers on Tuesday in exchange for a second-round pick.