Chris Jones (Mississippi St.)

Chiefs’ Chris Jones Threatening Holdout?

On Tuesday night, NFL.com’s Mike Garafolo estimated that Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones wouldn’t bite on an extension worth anything less than $20MM per year. Moments later, his gut feeling was confirmed by Jones himself.

Or I won’t play,” Jones tweeted. “[Le’Veon Bell] told me about this.”

Jones, of course, is referencing Bell’s messy final year with the Steelers. In 2018, the Steelers placed a second straight tag on Bell worth $14.5MM. Bell, meanwhile, wanted a long-term deal to reflect his combined value as an elite running back and a WR2 caliber receiver. When he didn’t get what he wanted, he held out for the entire season.

The following year, Bell got a five-year, $52.5MM deal from the Jets with $35MM guaranteed. It was a decent-sized deal for sure, but still shy of Bell’s original asking price and short of the throne for the league’s highest-paid RB mantle. Also, Bell lost out on a full year of salary.

If Jones stays away from the Chiefs and holds out during the regular season, he’d be losing more than $1MM per game. Still, the 25-year-old seems dead set on getting the deal he wants. Last year, Jones graded out as Pro Football Focus’ No. 7 ranked interior defensive lineman in the league and notched nine sacks. In 2018, when he saw more time on the edge, he registered 15.5 sacks. Jones understands his free market value and he says he won’t settle for less, or risk catastrophic injury in the interim.

Currently, the defensive tackle market is led by Aaron Donald ($22.5MM/year) and DeForest Buckner ($21MM/year). Meanwhile, Bears superstar Khalil Mack ($23MM AAV) leads all defensive players in average annual value.

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No Progress In Contract Talks Between Chiefs, Chris Jones

Contract negotiations between the Chiefs and star DT Chris Jones still haven’t gained much traction, per James Palmer of the NFL Network (video link). Jones, who is one of five franchise-tagged players yet to sign his franchise tender, did not participate in Kansas City’s virtual offseason program.

Jones was also pushing for a long-term deal last year, and he skipped the 2019 offseason program in an effort to make that happen, but he did not get his wish. Nothing of note transpired on the contract front throughout the 2019 campaign, and Jones was hit with the franchise tag in February. He expressed frustration with the process about a week later.

“It’s like a mix of emotions,” Jones said. “Because you figure, you know, after four years, you do everything the right way, within the team way, you try to stay under the line, out of trouble, and be a good citizen for a team and for the city, you expect to be rewarded. … It’s like, ‘Man, what else you want me to do?’”

Those comments were made before COVID-19 sent the entire country into lockdown, and the pandemic has brought already slow negotiations to a standstill. Nonetheless, the Chiefs have consistently maintained that they want to get a deal done with Jones, and Palmer reports that nothing has changed in that regard. The team has until July 15 to work out an extension, and it hopes to have a better idea of what the 2021 salary cap will look like prior to that date so it can make a well-informed decision on Jones.

In addition to the Jones talks, the team is also discussing what will surely be an otherworldly contract for QB Patrick Mahomes, but there is no imminent deadline on the Mahomes negotiations. Jones, whose franchise tender would pay him $16.1MM in 2020, has been pushing for a deal with an AAV of about $20MM, so even if the Chiefs do get a little clarity from the league before July 15, they will have a lot of work to do and not much time in which to do it.

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Latest On Chiefs, Chris Jones

While the Chiefs have begun negotiations with Patrick Mahomes, they are moving slower with their franchise-tagged player. Chris Jones and the Chiefs have not engaged in any extension talks since the Super Bowl champions used their tag in late February, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.

Jones has not participated in the Chiefs’ virtual offseason program and has no plans to do so, Rapoport adds. The fifth-year defensive tackle has kept in touch since being tagged, per ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler, but this is a slow-moving process (Twitter link). It is also in line with the slow pace of last year’s negotiations.

The former second-round pick skipped Kansas City’s 2019 offseason program, though he reported to training camp. But the sides did not make much progress last year, and Jones played out his rookie deal. He is now attached to a $16.1MM tag for a team that already has a $20MM-plus-AAV defensive lineman (Frank Clark) and has begun talks for what will almost certainly be a record-setting extension with Mahomes.

GM Brett Veach said in April the team would like to extend Jones, and franchise tag negotiations often move slowly due to the four-plus-month gap between the deadline to apply tags and the deadline to extend tagged players. Jones, understandably, is not exactly thrilled about his current arrangement.

It’s like a mix of emotions,” Jones said in March“Because you figure, you know, after four years, you do everything the right way, within the team way, you try to stay under the line, out of trouble, and be a good citizen for a team and for the city, you expect to be rewarded. … It’s like, ‘Man, what else you want me to do?’”

Last year, Jones sought a deal north of $20MM per year. The Chiefs wanted to keep the price tag below that number. With DeForest Buckner having now agreed to a $21MM-per-year with the Colts, Jones may have an even higher price floor. That will be difficult for the Chiefs to accommodate. Five teams are paying a pass rusher north of $20MM on average; none of them have another pass rusher more than $12MM per year. This will be a key situation to monitor through the July 15 deadline.

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Chiefs Working To Extend Chris Jones

The Chiefs are busy preparing for the NFL Draft, but Chris Jones‘ contract remains an offseason priority for them. On Thursday, GM Brett Veach made it clear that he wants to keep the defensive tackle for the long haul. 

[RELATED: Chiefs To Re-Sign Breeland]

The deadline to get a deal done is July 15. So there’s a lot of time to continue dialogue and to work on something with Chris,” Veach said (Twitter link via ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter). “But, we certainly are going to work to retain him. Not just for next year, but for the future.”

Earlier this year, the Chiefs applied the franchise tag to cuff Jones for one year at a $16.1MM rate. Still, the Mississippi State product has continued to push for a long-term deal. Fresh off the heels of his first Pro Bowl nod, he’s not exactly thrilled about the prospect of a one-year contract.

“It’s like a mix of emotions,” Jones said in March. “Because you figure, you know, after four years, you do everything the right way, within the team way, you try to stay under the line, out of trouble, and be a good citizen for a team and for the city, you expect to be rewarded….It’s like, ‘Man, what else you want me to do?’”

The Chiefs would like to keep Jones for years to come, but they’re limited by their cap flexibility. The Sammy Watkins helped them get to just $5MM in space and Jones is aiming for something in the $20MM/year range.

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Chiefs Haven’t Made Offer To Chris Jones

The Chiefs have yet to make a contract offer offer to franchise-tagged defensive tackle Chris Jones, NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero tweets. The two sides have had talks, but nothing has been put on the table just yet.

By putting the franchise tag on Jones, the Chiefs have him tendered on a one-year, $16.1MM deal. Meanwhile, he’s been pushing for a longer and more lucrative commitment – one that’s worth upwards of $20MM per year. From here, the two sides have until July 15th to work out a long-term deal and, ideally, that’s what the Chiefs want to do, ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter (Twitter link) believes. Of course, it’ll come down to numbers, but Schefter’s sense is that the Chiefs are not looking to trade him.

The Chiefs’ have limited flexibility to work with, given the other stars already on the books for 2020 and beyond. They did carve out a little bit of space by revising Sammy Watkins‘ contract, but that only left them with about $5MM in breathing room.

Last year, Jones held out from the Chiefs in hopes of getting the deal he wanted. Now that he’s coming off of his first Pro Bowl campaign, you can expect his camp to crank things up a notch.

“It’s like a mix of emotions,” Jones said after he was tagged this year. “Because you figure, you know, after four years, you do everything the right way, within the team way, you try to stay under the line, out of trouble, and be a good citizen for a team and for the city, you expect to be rewarded….It’s like, ‘Man, what else you want me to do?’”

Jones, who won’t turn 26 into July, wants to get paid one way or another.

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AFC West Notes: C. Jones, Broncos, C. Harris

The Chiefs will hit star DT Chris Jones with the franchise tag, and Jones is none too happy about it. “It’s like a mix of emotions,” Jones said in a recent interview with Fox Sports’ Colin Cowherd (h/t Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk). “Because you figure, you know, after four years, you do everything the right way, within the team way, you try to stay under the line, out of trouble, and be a good citizen for a team and for the city, you expect to be rewarded….It’s like, ‘Man, what else you want me to do?'”

Jones isn’t exactly the first player to express frustration with the tag, and Cowherd, as is his custom, did his best to wrangle noteworthy soundbites out of the 2019 Pro Bowler. But Jones will almost surely get the contract he’s looking for, either with the Chiefs or another club after a tag-and-trade. For what it’s worth, Florio does not believe KC will let Jones get away.

Now for more from the AFC West:

  • The Broncos made a splash today by acquiring CB A.J. Bouye from the Jaguars, which has furthered the belief that Chris Harris will leave in free agency. Indeed, Mike Klis of 9News believes that, unless Harris’ market falls dramatically, he will be suiting up elsewhere in 2020 (Twitter link). A team source acknowledged that Bouye’s presence makes it less likely Harris will be back, but the source did not close the door on the possibility (Twitter link via Klis).
  • After all, the Broncos still need another veteran CB, though Troy Renck of Denver7 believes the club will target a mid-range FA and draft a corner (Twitter link).
  • Another free agent the Broncos could have a tough time retaining is safety Will Parks. Renck reports in a full-length piece that Parks, lauded for his energy and versatility, has attracted significant interest from as many as 10 teams. However, the club has had positive dialogue with DE Derek Wolfe, per Renck. Wolfe has made it clear that he wants to remain in Denver.
  • The Raiders are one of the teams interested in Harris, and they also have their eye on one of the market’s other top CBs, Byron Jones.

Chiefs To Franchise Tag DT Chris Jones

No surprises here, but the Chiefs are going to put the franchise tag on star DT Chris Jones, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com was first to report (via Twitter). We had previously heard that KC was going to use the tag on Jones if the two sides could not come to terms on a long-term pact prior to the deadline to use the tag, but the Chiefs acted quickly to make sure Jones will not hit the open market (today is the first day teams can officially use the franchise and transition tags).

Of course, Kansas City wants to keep Jones in the fold for the long haul, and Jones obviously wants the security of a long-term pact, so player and team will continue negotiating. In 2019, the Mississippi State product continued to excel at getting to the quarterback, recording nine sacks in just 13 games. He was not quite as effective in terms of stopping the run, but his pass rush abilities more than make up for that.

The franchise tag value for defensive linemen is $16.1MM, but last year, Jones held out in hopes of securing a deal north of $20MM per year, and as he is coming off his first Pro Bowl campaign, his price tag won’t be dropping. He abilities and youth — he will turn 26 in July — make him one of the most attractive DTs in the game.

But the Chiefs are already paying Frank Clark over $20MM per year, and they are planning to sign QB Patrick Mahomes to a record-setting extension this offseason. As such, Jones could become a part of a tag-and-trade, though that sounds like more of a last resort at this point.

However, other players currently on the Super Bowl champions’ roster could be on the trade block. Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network says that the Chiefs are looking to slash salary and the scuttlebutt at the scouting combine is that they are open for business (Twitter link).

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Latest On Chiefs’ Chris Jones Plans

Patrick Mahomes‘ looming extension overshadows the Chiefs’ other offseason matters, but the team looks to have reached a decision on Chris Jones. Well, to some degree.

The free agent defensive tackle would be one of the top players available on this year’s market, but the Chiefs do not plan to let him get there. If they cannot reach an extension agreement by the end of the window to apply franchise tags (March 10), the defending Super Bowl champions will tag Jones, Albert Breer of SI.com notes.

A defensive tackle franchise tag would run the Chiefs approximately $16.3MM. Based on Jones’ per-year asking price, that would be a bargain for Kansas City. Last year, Jones held out in hopes of securing a deal north of $20MM per year. The contract the Chiefs gave Frank Clark after trading for him — five years, $104MM with $63MM guaranteed — represents the most lucrative accord in franchise history. With Jones making his first Pro Bowl a year after setting the NFL record for most consecutive games with a sack, his price point this time around will surely not drop.

That stands to complicate matters for the Chiefs, who will face a difficult task in paying two defensive linemen over $20MM per year and authorizing Mahomes’ record-setting extension. The Chiefs already have two wideouts earning at least $16MM per year, leading to understandable speculation Sammy Watkins will be released to expand on the Chiefs’ $13MM worth of cap space.

Tag-and-trade scenarios for Jones may surface, as the Chiefs were part of tag-and-trade deals for Clark and Dee Ford last year. But Breer expects the standout interior pass rusher to be a Chief next season. Jones, 25, getting to $20MM AAV make him just the second interior defender to hit that mark, joining Aaron Donald. The latter is attached to a $22.5MM-per-year pact, which leads all other inside defenders by more than $5MM annually.

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Extra Points: Eagles, Gordon, Mahomes

Running back Jordan Howard had somewhat of a breakout game last week during the Eagles’ win over the Bills, and now he’ll have a chance at revenge when he takes on the Bears on Sunday. Chicago, of course, shipped him off to Philly back in March. Howard got less and less productive toward the end of his time in Chicago, and he’s clearly enjoyed the change of scenery. Speaking to the media recently, the fourth-year back and impending free agent said he knows exactly where he wants to sign in the offseason. “I would love to be back,” Howard said, per Dave Zangaro of NBC Sports. “I’m loving Philly. So I would definitely love to be back. I’m loving my teammates and the city. I would definitely love to be back.” Howard turned 25 today (happy birthday Jordan), and has formed a solid one-two punch with rookie Miles Sanders. The Eagles’ running game has been a weakness the past couple of years, but it seems like things could finally be turning a corner.

Here’s more from around the league as we await kickoff:

  • The Seahawks were awarded Josh Gordon off waivers earlier this week, and some were surprised he lasted that long. Seattle was the only team willing to take the plunge though, as Ian Rapoport of NFL Network passed along in a tweet that the Seahawks were the only team to submit a claim. They were 28th in the order, so that isn’t too shocking. Gordon won’t play this weekend, but with Tyler Lockett and promising rookie D.K. Metcalf also in the fold, the Seahawks quietly have one of the league’s more talented receiving corps.
  • While the Seahawks were the only team to try and claim Gordon off waivers, they would’ve faced significant competition had he hit the open market. Nine teams wanted to bring Gordon in for a workout and a physical, his agent told Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com. Florio points out that teams might’ve thought they could get Gordon for cheaper than his $2MM salary if they waited until after he cleared waivers. The fact that so many teams wanted to see him workout before adding him also suggests there might be some lingering concern about his knee injury that cause him to go on injured reserve in the first place.
  • For a while it’s been assumed that the Chiefs aren’t going to rush Patrick Mahomes back and play him on Sunday against the Vikings, but that’s apparently not set in stone. There is still a chance Mahomes will suit up, sources told Ed Werder of ESPN (Twitter link). It would still be pretty surprising, and for now it’s safe to assume Matt Moore will be under center for the second consecutive week. In other Kansas City news, Werder writes that stud defensive tackle Chris Jones is expected to be active, and that the team is “hopeful” on star pass-rusher Frank Clark. Obviously Mahomes is the biggest name, but those would be two huge get-backs for their defense for this suddenly pivotal game. The Chiefs have lost three of their last four and now sit at just 5-3.

Injury Updates: Chiefs, Giants, Shepard

Chiefs defensive lineman Chris Jones suffered a groin strain in Sunday night’s game, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. After the results of his MRI come in, the Chiefs will know whether Jones will miss games.

Jones, 25, has two sacks through five games this year. Last season, he was phenomenal and finished with a career-high 40 tackles and 15.5 sacks. Pro Football Focus ultimately ranked him fifth among 112 interior defenders, with his pass-rushing score ranking second at the position.

While we wait to hear whether Jones will miss the Chiefs’ Week 6 game against the Texans, or anything beyond that, here’s more from around the NFL:

  • Chiefs defensive tackle Xavier Williams has a badly sprained ankle, Rapoport tweets. It’s a certainty that he’ll miss time, but the timetable has yet to be fleshed out.
  • Giants wide receiver Sterling Shepard is back in the concussion protocol, yet again (Twitter link via The Athletic’s Dan Duggan). This is Shepard’s second concussion this season, so it could be a while before he gets back on the field. Shepard had five catches for 49 yards against the Vikings in Week 5, bringing his season stat line to 25/267/1.
  • In more positive Chiefs news: guard Andrew Wylie (ankle) got good news on his Monday X-rays.