Chris Jones (Mississippi St.)

West Notes: C. Jones, Gould, Lindsay

The Chiefs and Chris Jones have made no recent progress towards a long-term deal, which means that Kansas City can, if it wants, have Jones play out the 2019 season for a bargain $1.2MM salary (Jones, after all, has to report to the club by August 6 to receive an accrued season toward free agency). However, if the Chiefs want to keep Jones in the fold for the long haul, it will have to pony up some cash soon.

And as Joel Corry of CBS Sports relays in a series of tweets, Jones is not going to come cheap. Corry suggests that Jones is already a $20MM+/year player, and if he performs as well in 2019 as he did in his breakout 2018 campaign, it will be hard to keep him for less than Aaron Donald‘s six-year, $135MM pact with the Rams. And if the Chiefs put the franchise tag on Jones next year and he plays the 2020 season under the tag while still performing at a high level, Khalil Mack money (six years, $141MM) won’t be enough.

The Chiefs learned with Justin Houston that waiting to extend an elite player can become overly costly, and Corry suggests KC should not go that route with Jones.

Now for more from the league’s west divisions:

  • The 49ers and K Robbie Gould agreed to a four-year, $19MM pact yesterday, and San Francisco bucked tradition a bit by fully guaranteeing the first two years of the deal (a total of $10.5MM). And, as Gould said (via ESPN.com), that guarantee was a deal-breaker. He had requested a trade in April, and given the Bears’ desperate need for a kicker, a trade to Chicago made sense, especially since Gould — the Bears’ all-time leading scorer — lives in the Windy City and plans to continue living there forever. He told the 49ers that in order for him to return to the team, he would need two fully-guaranteed years, and he got it.
  • Kyle Fredrickson of the Denver Post says that Broncos RB Phillip Lindsay believes he is ready to fully participate in training camp, which opens next week, after recovering from a wrist injury he suffered late last season. That is in keeping with what we heard in June, but Lindsay concedes that it’s not his decision. It’s still possible that he will remain a limited participant just as he was throughout offseason workouts, at least for awhile. Denver obviously wants to get him on the field as soon as possible, especially since he will be adjusting to a new offense, but the club also does not want to needlessly rush one of its most promising youngsters.
  • The Broncos signed No. 41 overall pick Dalton Risner earlier today, which leaves QB Drew Lock as the club’s only unsigned 2019 draft pick. Lock, the No. 42 overall pick, is looking for an overslot contract, but Denver does not plan to give him one.
  • Yesterday, the Raiders added some guard depth by signing Jonathan Cooper.

Latest On Chiefs, Chris Jones

There has been no change in the Chris Jones situation in recent weeks, a source tells Terez Paylor of Yahoo Sports (on Twitter). It doesn’t sound like a new deal is on the horizon for the defensive tackle, though he’ll have to report to camp by Aug. 6 to receive an accrued season toward free agency.

Jones skipped the team’s mandatory minicamp, subjecting him to roughly $90K in fines. From here, Jones doesn’t have a ton of options, though he’s made it clear that he wants a bump from his current deal. For now, he’s slated to earn a $1.2MM base salary with a paltry $1.3MM cap hit.

Following his stellar 2018 season, the 25-year-old should end up seeing a sizable pay raise. Jones enjoyed a breakout campaign, finishing 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.

With Dee Ford out of the picture, the Chiefs need Jones more than ever. In a perfect world, they’d lock him up immediately, but a long-term pact for the rising star won’t be cheap.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Chiefs’ Chris Jones To Skip Minicamp

Defensive tackle Chris Jones did not report to the Chiefs on Tuesday and is not expected to partake in minicamp, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter) hears. The two sides were discussing a new contract, but those talks have stalled. 

By skipping camp, Jones will be subject to roughly $90K in fines. He’ll also, potentially, send a message to the team that he is serious about getting a long-term deal that is in line with the market.

The former second-rounder is entering the final year of his contract. Jones is set to earn a $1.2MM base salary with a paltry $1.3MM cap hit.

Following his 2018 season, the 24-year-old (25 in July) should end up seeing a sizable pay raise. Jones had a breakout campaign last year, finishing 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.

With Dee Ford out of the picture, the Chiefs need Jones more than ever.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Chiefs, DL Chris Jones Discussing Extension

If the Chiefs have their way, Chris Jones will be sticking around Kansas City for the foreseeable future. General manager Brett Veach told Brooke Pryor of the Kansas City Star that the two sides have started discussing a contract extension.

“There’s a lot of time to go before the season starts, and he’s certainly a guy that we’ve targeted and would love to get done,” Veach said. “The conversations have started.

“I wouldn’t say they are heating up at a rapid pace, but you’ve got to start somewhere. We’ve had two to three of these conversations and they’re getting better.”

As Charean Williams of ProFootballTalk.com points out, the former second-rounder is entering the final year of his contract. Jones is set to earn a $1.2MM base salary and will account for a $1.3MM cap hit.

Following his 2018 season, the 24-year-old should end up seeing a sizable pay raise. Jones had a breakout campaign last year, finishing 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.

With Dee Ford out of the picture, the Chiefs will lean even more on Jones in 2019. The team can also turn to Derrick Nnadi and Xavier Williams in the middle of its defensive line, and reports yesterday indicated that the Chiefs were still pursuing free agent Allen Bailey. Either way, we should see Jones top his 11 starts from 2018.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Chiefs To Prioritize Extensions For Tyreek Hill, Chris Jones; Latest On Dee Ford

The Chiefs are presently benefiting from having star quarterback Patrick Mahomes playing under his rookie contract, which means they will have some money to sign other key members of their roster to long-term deals. Per Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network (video link), Kansas City plans to explore an extension for wide receiver Tyreek Hill this offseason, and a new deal for Hill is perhaps the team’s top offseason priority.

Hill could hardly have had a better start to his professional career, having earned three Pro Bowl nods and two First Team All-Pro selections in his first three seasons in the NFL. The former fifth-round pick out of West Alabama is under contract through the 2019 campaign and will be eligible for an extension for the first time this offseason. His current deal would pay him a $720K base salary next season, which is laughably low for someone of his caliber. Indeed, Rapoport suggests that Hill could become the highest-paid receiver in the NFL, and it would not be surprising to see him land a contract paying him $18MM or more per season with a $40MM+ guarantee.

The Chiefs are also expected to pursue an extension for third-year defensive end Chris Jones, a significant part of the team’s fearsome pass rush who racked up 15.5 sacks this season in a true breakout performance. Given the ever-increasing price tag for quality pass rushers, particularly ones who are just entering the primes of their careers, Jones will also be in line for a major payday.

Another pillar of Kansas City’s pass rush, Dee Ford, is eligible for unrestricted free agency this offseason. Ford had something of an up-and-down career before 2018, but his 13 sacks this year will put him in high demand should he reach the open market. We heard just last week that Ford would have the opportunity to explore free agency, as the Chiefs are not planning to put the franchise tag on him, but Rapoport hears differently. Rapoport says the team has not ruled out putting the tag on Ford, and they certainly have enough cash to do so.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC West Notes: Chiefs, Jones, Broncos Staff

Chiefs defensive lineman Chris Jones suffered a torn MCL in last Saturday’s playoff defeat and will be sidelined for eight-to-ten weeks, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Now that Kansas City has been eliminated from the postseason, Jones won’t be forced to miss any game action, and his recovery timeline means he’ll be ready to go well ahead of organized team activities. Jones, the 37th overall selection in the 2016 draft, has been force during his two years with the Chiefs, and last season graded as the NFL’s No. 11 interior defender, per Pro Football Focus. He’s under contract through 2019.

Here’s more from the AFC West:

  • Zach Azzanni has been named the Broncos‘ new wide receivers coach, reports Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post (Twitter link). A longtime collegiate wideouts coach, Azzanni began his NFL career with the Titans in 2013 before leading the Bears’ pass-cathcers last season. Chicago’s wide receivers didn’t offer much production in 2017, but the club also boasted one of the league’s worst wide receiving corps, so it’s difficult to assign Azzanni much credit or blame. In Denver, he’ll work with a unit that includes veteran such as Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders and younger players like 2017 rookie Carlos Henderson.
  • The Broncos have also hired a new defensive backs coach in Greg Williams (not to be confused with the Browns defensive coordinator), as Mike Klis of 9News writes. Williams, who has also coached with the Chargers, spent the past two seasons as the Colts’ defensive backs coach, where, as Klis notes, he helped turned former journeyman Rashean Mathis into something of a shutdown corner. Williams will work alongside Marcus Robertson, who will return as Denver’s primary secondary coach.
  • Fred Pagac won’t return to Denver next season, but the Broncos don’t intend to hire another outside linebackers coach to fill his job, per Klis (Twitter link). Instead, the Broncos intend to bring in a dedicated “pass rush” coach who will operate with Denver’s defensive lineman and linebackers. Incumbent LBs coach Reggie Herring will now lead both inside and outside ‘backers.

Impact Rookies: Kansas City Chiefs

The old adage that defense wins championships may or may not be true, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find a title-winning team that didn’t build heavily through the draft. Rookie classes, naturally, are evaluated on the perceived upside of the NFL newcomers, but which rookies are ready to contribute right out of the gate? And, how do they fit in with their new team schematically?

To help us forecast the immediate future of these NFL neophytes, we enlisted the help of draft guru Dave-Te Thomas who has served as a scouting personnel consultant to NFL teams for multiple decades.

Today, we continue PFR’s Impact Rookie series with his insight on the Kansas City Chiefs’ draft class:

It was far from exciting for Kansas City fans when the Chiefs introduced their cache from the recent NFL Draft. While some fans recognized the need to improve the pass protection up front after KC quarterbacks were sacked 46 times last year (tied for sixth worst in the league), rather than bulking up the offensive line, they first cut guard Ben Grubbs, let right tackle Jeff Allen sign a four-year deal with Houston, and then traded away the No. 28 pick to San Francisco, only to see the 49ers take one of the better guard prospects available – Stanford’s Josh Garnett. While the fans were clamoring for a big body in the first round, Kansas City did manage to secure from the 49ers their second round pick (No. 37 overall), a fourth round choice (No. 105), and a sixth round selection (No. 178 through Dallas) in this year’s draft during the exchange.

So what does KC have in Jones and the rest of its 2016 rookie class? Let’s dive in:

Second Round – Chris Jones, DE/DT (Mississippi State, No. 37 overall)

Several teams had Jones pegged as a late first round prospect, but the Chiefs see him as a capable edge rusher with the ability to slide inside when they go to a four-man front. Still, other teams felt that the junior would have been better served remaining in school and continuing his development for another year. In 2014, he posted 26 tackles, but just 3.5 of those stops came from behind the line of scrimmage. He shifted from the weak-side to strong-side tackle last season, picking up second-team All-American honors after he delivered 44 tackles, 2.5 sacks and 7.5 stops-for-loss. Chris Jones (vertical)

Jones might not have those eye-catching numbers you expect from an elite prospect, but even with 5.5 sacks combined his last two seasons, the Chiefs felt that he was further along than most of the defensive linemen still left in the draft. They realize that he needs refinement and lacks an array of pass rush moves, but he uses his hands exceptionally well to rip and swim. With his balance, he demonstrates the ability to execute an effective spin move, despite the fact that he tends to get high in his stance (he has a good center of gravity, though).

On film, you see that Jones’ high motor allows him to close in on a ball carrier quickly. Has a lot of range, makes a good portion of his tackles outside the box. With his balance, he gets out in space well, looking like an oversized linebacker. He’s quite light on his feet when he has to be, and you can see that he has that wiggle in his hips needed to make the last second moves to avoid the brunt of a blocker’s punch. When he keeps a low pad level, he generates much better explosion off the snap, but when he fails to deliver on his initial move, his feet stop and his arms get a little out of control at the point of attack, which allows blockers to get a piece of his jersey.

Still, for a player his size, he does a nice job of fitting into tight spaces. I doubt if he will ever be regarded as a pass rusher, as he is more suited in being a one-gap type of penetrator that can alter the lane of a running back. He must be conscious of low blocks though and has to do a better job of recognizing double teams, as failure to do so will result in Jones being driven back by that strong double team duo. In one-on-one battles, it is a completely different story, as the Bulldog uses his long arms and powerful hands to make it very difficult for a blocker to lock on to him, especially when he shows confidence in the power he delivers out his hands and arms.

Continue reading about the Chiefs’ rookie class..

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Chiefs Sign Six Draft Picks, Seven UDFAs

The Chiefs have officially locked up the majority of their nine-player draft class, having signed six selections to contracts, the team announced. Along with the previously reported Chris Jones (second-round pick), the Chiefs inked the followers players to deals:

The Chiefs traded out of the first round this year, making third-round defensive back Keivarae Russell their most significant unsigned draft pick as of now. The team also officially signed seven undrafted free agents, including three cornerbacks:

Additionally, Kansas City waived Lithuanian-born linebacker Tautvydas Kieras, per a team announcement (Twitter link).

AFC Draft Signings: Chiefs, Texans, Jaguars

The Chiefs have signed second-round pick Chris Jones, a source tells PFT (Twitter link). The defensive lineman out of Mississippi State becomes KC’s first rookie to sign. Jones’ stock rose in the weeks leading up to the draft as more and more teams zeroed in on interior pass rushers.

Here are the rest of today’s draft signings from the AFC:

  • The Texans signed fifth-round nose tackle D.J. Reader, according to Mark Berman of FOX 26 (via Twitter).
  • The Jaguars sign sixth-round quarterback Brandon Allen, as Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union tweets.
  • The Jaguars signed sixth-round linebacker/defensive end Tyrone Holmes, as Aaron Wilson of The Houston Chronicle tweets.
  • Linebacker Jatavis Brown inked his rookie contract with the Chargers, Rand Getlin of NFL.com tweets. The Akron product was taken in the fifth-round.
  • The Jets signed seventh-round punter Lachlan Edwards, according to his agency on Twitter.
  • The Patriots signed sixth-round linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill to a $2.44MM deal, including a $100K signing bonus, as his slot dictates, Wilson tweets.
  • The Steelers announced the signing of seventh round draft picks Demarcus Ayers and Tyler Matakevich. Ayers, a wide receiver/returner from the University of Houston, and Matakevich, a linebacker from Temple, are now the first two Pittsburgh rookies to sign from this year’s class.
  • The Ravens signed fifth-round defensive end Matt Judon, Jeff Zrebiec of The Baltimore Sun tweets.
  • The Texans signed fifth-round safety K.J. Dillon, as Mark Berman of FOX 26 tweets.

Draft Rumors: Spence, J. Smith, Rankins, Vikes

Eastern Kentucky edge defender Noah Spence, who had multiple positive drug tests during his time at Ohio State, sent each of the NFL’s 32 teams the results of the 20 drug tests he has taken since last May, league sources tell Adam Schefter of ESPN.com. According to Schefter, Spence had Eastern Kentucky conduct five drug tests from May through December, then submitted to 15 more – one per week – since January.

In terms of pure on-field talent, Spence is viewed as one of the top pass rushers in this year’s draft class, but his off-field question marks may cause him to slip a little further than he’d like. Still, he continues to be viewed as a first-round pick, and receiving evidence that he has been clean for the last year may make some teams a little more inclined to roll the dice on him.

Here are a few more of today’s pre-draft rumors and updates:

  • Despite his significant knee injury, which is expected to sideline him for the entire 2016 season, Notre Dame linebacker Jaylon Smith is still viewed as a potential day-one or day-two pick, according to Adam Schefter (Twitter links). Schefter hears that Smith is likely to be selected before the end of round three, and one NFL head coach even believes the linebacker could come off the board late in the first round.
  • The buzz surrounding Louisville defensive lineman Sheldon Rankins has intensified today. Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com and Matt Miller of Bleacher Report (Twitter links) both have heard that Rankins will be considered as early as No. 4 by the Cowboys, with La Canfora predicting that he’ll end up as a top-10 pick. Tony Pauline at WalterFootball.com has heard that the draft stocks for both Rankins and Mississippi State DT Chris Jones have risen, with teams seeking interior pass rushers.
  • Several NFL teams think Ohio State wideout Michael Thomas is being undervalued, and will transition well to the NFL, according to Tony Pauline, who says the Chargers and Bengals are among the teams with interest in Thomas. Pauline adds within the same article that the Vikings aren’t a lock to draft a receiver in round one, and will consider Ole Miss defensive lineman Robert Nkemdiche if he’s available.
  • With Notre Dame’s Ronnie Stanley being mentioned in the same conversations as Laremy Tunsil recently, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk looks into whether or not the Tunsil/Stanley debate is real.
  • The NFL is considering Philadelphia and Los Angeles to host the 2017 NFL draft, with Philly emerging as the favorite, tweets Adam Schefter. As Schefter points out, neither of those cities’ teams has a first-round pick in 2017.
  • Purdue defensive tackle Ryan Watson has visited, worked out for, or received inquiries from eight teams since his pro day, tweets Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle.

Zach Links contributed to this post.