Chris Jones (Mississippi St.)

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).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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.

Chiefs’ Chris Jones Reports To Camp

The negotiations between the Chiefs and defensive lineman Chris Jones may be on the right track. Jones, who previously skipped team activities, reported for the start of training camp on Friday.

He knows his value and if he has to play out his deal in order to reach free agency, then that’s what he will do. For now, he’s focused on winning a Super Bowl for Kansas City,” his agents told Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter).

Jones wants a deal similar to the one that Frank Clark received after he was traded to Kansas City from Seattle (five years, $104MM, $63.5MM in guarantees). The Chiefs, meanwhile, want to keep the AAV lower than $20MM per season and want to keep the guarantees in the $45-50MM ballpark. However, the Chiefs may prefer to pay out a significant chunk of those guarantees upfront in the form of a signing bonus, and given that only ~$44MM of Clark’s guaranteed money was fully-guaranteed at signing, the two sides might not be far apart.

The Chiefs, though, have every reason to slow play this situation. Even if they don’t reach a long-term deal with Jones this year, they can get another season out of him for next to nothing and hit him with the franchise tag in 2020.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Chiefs, Chris Jones

Not much in the way of good news has emerged during Chris Jones‘ negotiations with the Chiefs, and Sunday brought more of the same. The Chiefs and their standout interior rusher are entrenched in their positions as camp approaches.

But regarding a holdout, Jones has not yet decided on this course of action, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk notes. The Chiefs’ first training camp practice is scheduled for Saturday.

Jones is believed to want north of $20MM per year, while the Chiefs would prefer he come in under that figure. Four defenders — Khalil Mack ($23MM AAV), Aaron Donald ($22.5MM), DeMarcus Lawrence ($21MM) and Frank Clark ($20.8MM) — are in the $20MM-plus club. Neither Jones nor Clark has made a Pro Bowl, but both have been two of the better players at their respective positions over the past three years. The Chiefs employing both Clark and Jones, with Patrick Mahomes and perhaps Tyreek Hill also on tap for extensions, complicates this situation.

The Chiefs also want to keep the guarantees in the $45-50MM ballpark, which would still be a quality haul for Jones given that Donald’s full guarantee was $50MM and only five interior defenders have secured more than $45MM in total guarantees. Although Jones has not earned anything close to Donald-level accolades, he set an NFL record last season by recording a sack in 11 straight games.

Jones has until August 6 to report to camp in order to accrue a fourth season toward unrestricted free agency. But as Florio points out, Jones being a restricted free agent in 2020 (should he not report by August 6) may not matter too much since a team would probably be willing to give up a first-round pick for him. The franchise tag would protect the Chiefs on that front, perhaps making August’s deadline less pertinent. Donald skipped this deadline when he held out in 2017, reporting to the Rams in September of that year, before signing an extension in 2018.

Jones and Hill entering 2020 unsigned would make for an interesting tag situation. Jones being a much more stable bet than Hill, making a tag potentially a better move with the latter standout, could influence the Chiefs regarding an extension. Kansas City has recent experience on this front, going the tag-and-extend route with both Justin Houston and Eric Berry. Berry’s deal occurring after a tagged season, but both delayed extensions proved more costly for the Chiefs than they otherwise would have. These several factors make the coming days interesting on the Jones front.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Still No Progress On Deal Between Chiefs, Chris Jones

Last month, we heard that extension talks between the Chiefs and star DT Chris Jones had stalled. Jones skipped minicamp as a result of his contract situation and may hold out of the first part of training camp (as we have noted previously, he must report by August 6 in order to remain eligible for unrestricted free agency next year).

But a source tells Sam Mellinger of the Kansas City Star that both sides are presently entrenched in their negotiating positions and have not really budged. Further, Mellinger indicates that Jones’ camp and the Chiefs have not even discussed the matter recently.

Jones, understandably, wants a deal similar to the one that Frank Clark received after he was traded to Kansas City from Seattle (five years, $104MM, $63.5MM in guarantees). The Chiefs, meanwhile, want to keep the AAV lower than $20MM per season and want to keep the guarantees in the $45-50MM ballpark. However, Mellinger does say that the club would prefer to pay out a significant chunk of those guarantees upfront in the form of a signing bonus, and given that “only” about $44MM of Clark’s guaranteed money was fully-guaranteed at signing, perhaps Jones and the Chiefs are not as far apart as it appears.

The Chiefs, though, have every reason to slowplay this situation, because even if they don’t reach a long-term deal with Jones this year, they will have gotten another season out of him for next to nothing and could simply hit him with the franchise tag in 2020 (and whatever money they don’t spend this year they can roll over into next year). And, while quarterback Patrick Mahomes will be eligible for an extension that is sure to be otherworldly in 2020, such an extension will probably be quite lengthy, which will help to make the price tag a little more palatable. That’s not to mention the fact that the salary cap is likely going to continue rising, and the Chiefs have a number of contracts that could be terminated or reworked.

Jones is an excellent player, and one expert believes he is already a $20MM/year defender. He would be plenty justified in betting on himself and spurning whatever proposal the Chiefs have on the table if he does not believe it represents fair market value, though it would also be quite difficult to turn down the type of money that Kansas City is apparently already offering.

As Mellinger notes, Jones has not publicly said that he will skip any portion of training camp, so it will be interesting to see if he reports with the rest of his teammates this week.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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.