Chris Jones (Mississippi St.)

Largest 2022 Cap Hits: Defense

After looking at this year’s top salary cap numbers on the offensive side of the ball, here is a rundown of the players counting the most toward their teams’ payrolls in 2022.

As could be expected, the salary figures here start below the quarterbacks. A few pass rushers, however, are tied to notable cap hits. Those numbers that check in within the top 20 leaguewide regardless of position. With the exception of true nose tackles and pure slot cornerbacks, every defensive position is represented here.

Here are the top cap figures on the defensive side for the ’22 season:

  1. T.J. Watt, OLB (Steelers): $31.12MM
  2. Chris Jones, DT (Chiefs): $29.42MM
  3. Joey Bosa, OLB (Chargers): $28.25MM
  4. Leonard Williams, DL (Giants): $27.3MM
  5. Aaron Donald, DT (Rams): $27MM
  6. Jalen Ramsey, CB (Rams): $23.2MM
  7. Deion Jones, LB (Falcons): $20.1MM
  8. Bud Dupree, OLB (Titans): $19.2MM
  9. Justin Simmons, S (Broncos): $18.85MM
  10. Javon Hargrave, DT (Eagles): $17.8MM
  11. C.J. Mosley, LB (Jets): $17.5MM
  12. Cameron Heyward, DL (Steelers): $17.42MM
  13. Robert Quinn, DE (Bears): $17.14MM
  14. Matt Judon, OLB (Patriots): $16.5MM
  15. DeForest Buckner, DT (Colts): $16MM
  16. Shaquill Griffin, CB (Jaguars): $16.44MM
  17. Tre’Davious White, CB (Bills): $16.4MM
  18. J.J. Watt, DL (Cardinals): $15.9MM
  19. Marcus Peters, CB (Ravens): $15.5MM
  20. Carl Lawson, DE (Jets): $15.33MM
  21. Eddie Jackson, S (Bears): $15.1MM
  22. Lavonte David, LB (Buccaneers): $14.79MM
  23. Budda Baker, S (Cardinals): $14.78MM
  24. Romeo Okwara, DE (Lions): $14.5MM
  25. Trey Hendrickson, DE (Bengals): $14.49MM
  • Illustrating how much the cap has climbed over the past several seasons, T.J. Watt is tied to a number nearly twice that of J.J. Watt, who has been tied to $16.7MM-per-year (a defender-record number in 2014) and $14MM-AAV deals as a pro. Trailing his older brother in Defensive Player of the Year honors, T.J. is signed to an edge defender-record $28MM-per-year accord.
  • Jones’ four-year Chiefs deal vaults from an $8.5MM cap number in 2021 to the league’s second-highest defensive figure this year. The standout defensive tackle’s cap hit accompanies Patrick Mahomes‘ $35.79MM number, which is well north of his 2021 figure, on Kansas City’s new-look payroll.
  • After two franchise tags, Williams scored a monster extension in 2021. The well-paid Giants D-lineman’s cap number this year is way up from his 2021 number ($9.4MM).
  • The Rams redid Donald’s contract last month, adding no new years to the through-2024 pact. The all-world defender’s cap hit actually decreases in 2023, dropping to $26MM
  • It is not certain Deion Jones will be back with the Falcons, who have jettisoned other Super Bowl LI cornerstones from the roster since the current regime took over in 2021. But they would save just $1MM were they to release the seventh-year linebacker.
  • To date, this represents the high-water mark for Mosley cap hits on his Jets deal, which at the time (2019) began a sea change for off-ball linebacker contracts. Mosley’s cap hit, on a pact that runs through 2024 because of the linebacker opting out of the 2020 season, increased by $10MM from 2021-22.
  • Hargrave is one of five Eagles pass rushers signed to veteran contracts. The ex-Steeler’s 2021 deal accompanies Brandon Graham, Josh Sweat, Haason Reddick, and Fletcher Cox‘s new agreement on Philadelphia’s defensive front. As cap hits do not reflect average salaries, Hargrave is the only member of this quartet tied to an eight-figure cap number in 2022.
  • Quinn has also been connected to a departure, with the 31-year-old pass rusher skipping minicamp after it became known he would like to be traded away from the rebuilding team. His cap hit tops the Bears’ payroll. The Bears would save $12.9MM by trading Quinn, should another team sign up for taking on his full 2022 base salary.

NFL COVID List Updates: 12/23/21

We’ve compiled a list of players who were placed or activated from the reserve/COVID-19 list today. In some instances, players activated from the list remain on IR:

Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore Ravens

Buffalo Bills

Carolina Panthers

Chicago Bears

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Houston Texans

Kansas City Chiefs

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Rams

Miami Dolphins

Minnesota Vikings

New York Giants

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

Pittsburgh Steelers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Washington Football Team

Chiefs Place Chris Jones On COVID-19 List

The Chiefs have placed defensive lineman Chris Jones on the COVID-19 list, per an announcement from head coach Andy Reid. With their next game just two days away, this effectively rules Jones out for Thursday night’s matchup against the Chargers. 

[RELATED: Chargers Place Slater On COVID-19 List]

Through eleven games this year, Jones has seven sacks, 14 quarterback hits, and five pass breakups to his credit. His consistent pressure will be sorely missed this week, though the Chargers will also be shorthanded on the opposite side. Top left tackle Rashawn Slater has also been placed on the COVID-19 list with little chance of getting cleared before Thursday night.

The Chiefs furnished Jones with a four-year, $80MM extension before the 2020 season. He responded with his second consecutive Pro Bowl nod and 7.5 sacks, a strong return to kick off the new deal. Midway through his sixth season, Jones has amassed 47.5 sacks for the Chiefs despite spending much of that time on the interior.

A win on Sunday would put the Chiefs inches away from locking up the division. A loss, on the other hand, would leave the AFC West wide open for the Chargers.

Minor NFL Transactions: 11/6/20

Here are Friday’s minor moves:

Chicago Bears

Cincinnati Bengals

Kansas City Chiefs

Miami Dolphins

Minnesota Vikings

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

San Francisco 49ers

Chiefs Place Chris Jones On Reserve/COVID-19 List

The Chiefs had a staffer recently test positive for COVID-19 and may be observing some fallout. They placed Chris Jones on the reserve/COVID-19 list Thursday.

Jones will be forced to isolate for five days and, unless his close contact with the person who tested positive came before Wednesday, will miss the Chiefs’ Week 9 game against the Panthers.

Chiefs VP of Sports Medicine and Performance Rick Burkholder tested positive for the coronavirus, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets. With Burkholder serving as a Chiefs trainer, it is possible the team will place more players on its COVID-19 list ahead of Week 9.

Jones has not tested positive, per Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (on Twitter), but instead profiles as a close contact. This close contact may well have been separate from Burkholder’s positive test, with Albert Breer of SI.com tweeting Jones’ encounter with a COVID-positive person occurred outside the Chiefs’ facility.

The Chiefs gave Jones a four-year, $80MM extension this summer. The NFL’s record holder for consecutive games with a sack, Jones has anchored Kansas City’s defensive line for years. The fifth-year defensive tackle has 4.5 sacks this season.

Latest On Chiefs’ Extensions

Although the Rams once cut Kurt Warner less than three years after he won the second of his two MVP awards, the notion of the Chiefs releasing Patrick Mahomes down the road sounds insane. But the contract categorized by some as team-friendly offers Mahomes extensive protection against a release for the foreseeable future.

The 10-year, $450MM deal — which ties Mahomes to the Chiefs through 2031 — contains lucrative buyout numbers, with Albert Breer of SI.com relaying that even as late as 2024, it would cost the Chiefs an astounding $78.4MM to get out of the contract. A year later, the buyout number still comes in north of $40MM — at $41.95MM, per Breer.

While Mahomes’ record re-up does not lead the league in fully guaranteed money, these buyout numbers and the roster bonus structure do not put the 24-year-old superstar in much danger of missing out on money owed — as long as he’s attached to this extension.

Mahomes may have set the market, but Ian Rapoport notes that Deshaun Watson is expected to seek a shorter-term deal in order to maximize his value (video link). A four-year deal would give the Texans quarterback a good chance to sign another extension before he turns 30. Although Mahomes’ contract features unprecedented security on the back end of his deal, Joel Corry of CBS Sports envisions the lower-end (by franchise-QB standards) payouts early in the contract will not make other passers want to sign similarly structured extensions. Both Jared Goff ($84MM) and Carson Wentz ($81MM) will out-earn Mahomes ($63MM) over the first three years of their respective deals.

Mahomes’ 10-year agreement undoubtedly helped the Chiefs extend Chris Jones on Tuesday. Kansas City’s dominant defensive tackle signed a four-year, $80MM pact, with negotiations ramping up after Mahomes’ deal was finalized. Jones received $37.6MM fully guaranteed; that will be due by March 2021. Through two years of the deal, Jones will have pocketed $55.75MM, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk notes. The $5MM in incentives are $1.25MM-per-year, sack-based escalators, Florio adds.

Kansas City became the first team to give two defensive linemen — Jones and Frank Clark — $20MM-AAV deals. Of the Chiefs’ three $20MM-per-year players, Jones was the only one to negotiate a four-year contract. This would make him eligible to hit the market before he turns 30.

Chiefs, Chris Jones Agree To Deal

Chris Jones is on the verge of a brand new contract. The Chiefs have agreed to a fresh four-year deal with their star defensive tackle, according to Chris Mortensen of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Jones is scheduled to earn up to $85MM over the life of the deal, including $60MM in guarantees, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter).

Jones will receive $37MM guaranteed at signing, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets, noting that this is a four-year, $80MM deal that features another $5MM available via incentives. Among interior D-linemen, Jones now sits third in guaranteed money and fourth in fully guaranteed funds. 

This year’s franchise tag extension deadline is largely quiet due to fiscal uncertainty, but Jones proved to be an exception. Many doubted whether Jones would hit his desired $20MM+ average annual value demand, but his camp got it done. Jones’ deal ended up coming in just south of DeForest Buckner‘s recent $21MM-per-year Colts pact.

Earlier this month, Jones threatened a holdout via Twitter, referencing Le’Veon Bell‘s infamous standoff with the Steelers. In reality, a holdout would have been extremely risky for the 25-year-old. A season-long holdout could have delayed Jones’ entry into free agency and cost him roughly $1MM per game – his tender was valued at $16.1MM for the 2020 season.

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. He’s one of the best IDLs in the game today, and he’s still approaching his prime seasons.

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

Latest On Chiefs’ Chris Jones, Bengals’ A.J. Green

And then there were three. With Broncos safety Justin Simmons and Buccaneers edge rusher Shaquil Barrett agreeing to sign their franchise tenders, Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones, Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green, and Jaguars defensive end Yannick Ngakoue are the only franchised players whose statuses remain uncertain.

As Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com reports, there may be some progress on the Jones front (video link). We recently heard that talks between Jones and the Chiefs had stalled, and that Jones is prepared to hold out until he gets the contract he wants. But Fowler says player and team have finally resumed negotiations, which is a big deal in and of itself considering that there had been radio silence for months.

However, there is still plenty of work to be done. Though Jones has been reportedly aiming for a deal with an average annual value of about $20MM, Fowler reports that KC will have to pony up “well over” the $20MM figure if it wants to get an extension completed. As good as Jones is, it’s unclear if the two sides will be able to bridge the gap in advance of the July 15 deadline.

Unlike Jones and the Chiefs, Green and the Bengals have discussed an extension recently. It doesn’t sound as if those discussions have been particularly fruitful, however, as Fowler notes there is not much optimism regarding a multi-year contract

Green has indicated previously that he will not hold out if he does not get a long-term deal of his liking, and given the new CBA’s rules for players holding out after having signed a contract as a veteran, that makes sense. A Jones holdout would be much more likely, as Jones just finished his rookie contract and has not yet signed a pact as a veteran player.

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.

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.