Chris Jones (Mississippi St.)

Latest On Chiefs’ Chris Jones Contract

Last year, the Chiefs were unwilling to go near the Aaron Donald salary range for Chris Jones, attempting to pay him in line with the younger crop of defensive tackles extended in 2023. With Jones on the cusp of free agency, the team relented. And some big numbers are coming out as a result.

Saturday night’s Chiefs-Jones agreement produced a new interior D-line AAV record and a new guarantee standard — the latter by a massive margin. Jones agreed to a five-year, $158.75MM deal, Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio reports. That comes out to $31.75MM per year, a significant number due to Donald’s $31.67MM accord leading the way at the position previously.

It does not appear that previous $95MM number represents a full guarantee, but it does double as a practical guarantee. The Chiefs will revisit the rolling guarantee structure they used for Patrick Mahomes with Jones. The team would have to cut Jones in 2025 to avoid the $95.3MM guarantee, Florio adds. Guaranteed at signing: a $30MM signing bonus, Jones’ 2024 and 2025 salaries ($1.25MM, $13.75MM) and a $15MM 2025 roster bonus. The rest of Jones’ guarantees are in place to vest in 2025.

Jones’ 2026 salary ($19MM) is guaranteed for injury at signing but becomes fully guaranteed on Day 3 of the 2025 league year. The future Hall of Fame D-tackle will be due a $16MM roster bonus in 2025. This is classified as a 2026 roster bonus, but KPRC2’s Aaron Wilson indicates it is guaranteed for injury already and will be guaranteed fully if Jones is on the Chiefs’ roster on Day 3 of the 2025 league year. The Chiefs have turned to this year-out guarantee on multiple fronts with Jones, who should be set to pick up the second bonus as well.

The contract shifts to a more traditional structure after Year 3. If Jones is still on the Chiefs’ roster as of Day 3 of the 2027 league year, $3MM of his 2027 base salary ($28.25MM) will become guaranteed. Jones’ 2028 base salary ($35MM) is nonguaranteed. This deal almost definitely will not be an active contract by 2028.

Jones has a clear path to securing $95.3MM in guarantees by 2025. For reference, Donald received $46.5MM of his 2022 raise guaranteed at signing. Though, the Rams icon only agreed to a three-year deal. Jones signing a five-year contract helped on this front.

It is safe to assume the Chiefs would not have needed to go near this guarantee place had they agreed to pay Jones last year — before the historic cap spike occurred. But the threat of Jones’ departure looks to have changed the Chiefs’ thinking, and the longtime DT standout’s quality contract year — one that led the way in another Super Bowl win, as Kansas City’s offense regressed — set himself up for this monumental payday.

Chiefs, Chris Jones Agree To Extension

Chris Jones will not be reaching the market. The three-time Chiefs Super Bowl winning defensive tackle has been retained on a monster extension, as first reported by Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. The deal is five years in length and includes a staggering $95MM in guaranteed money, ESPN’s Adam Schefter notes.

Jones’ agency has since confirmed the move, which will ensure his Kansas City tenure continues and add considerably to his career earnings. The five-time Pro Bowler was on track to be the top prize amongst defenders in free agency, but the Chiefs made consistent efforts recently to retain him. That has now taken place, with the agreement shattering the record for guaranteed compensation at the D-tackle spot.

Schefter clarifies Jones will receive the $95MM figure – which is guaranteed – over the first three years of the pact. That $31.67MM average matches the AAV mark set by Aaron Donald on his historic Rams extension, but it far outpaces the $46.5MM guaranteed which Donald’s deal includes. The deal is still being ironed out, per Schefter, but once finalized it will move Jones to the top of the DT pecking order.

The 29-year-old had been seeking a deal in the $30MM-per-year range, and he has indeed landed it. Jones was always Kansas City’s top free agent priority, despite a younger defensive stalwart (cornerback L’Jarius Sneed) also being in need of a new deal. The latter has been franchise-tagged, but it remains to be seen if he will be retained or traded to avoid a 2025 free agent departure. Regardless of what happens in the team’s secondary, Kansas City’s defensive front will remain strong given Jones’ continued presence.

Earning first-team All-Pro honors in each of the past two seasons, Jones has not slowed. The Mississippi State product has totaled 26 sacks over the that span in the regular season, adding 2.5 in the postseason. Game-changing plays in the playoffs have remained a fixture for Jones, as he as contributed immensely to the Chiefs’ dynasty construction. Given his durability (multiple missed games in only two seasons), a long-term investment could be less risky from the team’s perspective than most others with players his age.

Kansas City has seen head coach Andy Reid commit to playing at least one more season (and likely more) in an offseason after Patrick Mahomes had his own mega-deal restructured. Jones agreeing to a re-up means all three pillars of the Chiefs’ core will be intact moving forward. In the latter’s case, it comes with the added benefit of avoiding a repeat of the holdout which began the 2023 regular season.

Jones remained out of the lineup through Week 1 this past campaign, missing out on a game check in addition to fines incurred from missed training camp time. He and the team worked out a one-year deal laden with incentives, but hammering out another multi-year pact was an obvious priority for team and player. Working one out before free agency was the expectation of many around the league, and to no surprise Jones has landed a raise from the four-year, $80MM pact he inked in 2020.

As of Saturday, the two-time defending champions sat at just $1.2MM in cap space, a figure which of course did not include Jones given his pending free agency (although he will account for $3.4MM in dead money with his previous deal already having voided). The structure of the guaranteed payouts – along with whatever compensation is included in Years 4 and 5 – will be interesting given the importance of Kansas City maintaining cap flexibility in the immediate future.

The team is expected to devote finances to the offensive side of the ball (aside from this historic Jones agreement, of course) this offseason. That comes as no surprise given Kansas City’s inconsistency relative to its defense in 2023. Jones will remain an anchor of DC Steve Spagnuolo‘s unit for the foreseeable future, though, something which will have a ripple effect around the league next week.

Jones coming off the board leaves a major vacancy at the top of the DT market. Christian Wilkins is now positioned as the best player at the position on track to land a deal with an outside suitor. In the short term in Wilkins’ case, as well as the long term given the upward financial trajectory along the defensive interior, this Jones deal will keep moving the bar higher in terms of both annual and guaranteed compensation.

AFC West Notes: Broncos, Chiefs, Eluemunor

Coming off their Russell Wilson misstep, the Broncos will be taking on a chunk of their record-setting dead money ($35.4MM) this year. The more punishing hit will come in 2025 ($49.6MM), and although both numbers will be offset to a degree by the cap’s rise, Denver may need to be thriftier at quarterback. Mock drafts continue to include a Broncos QB pick or a trade-up move for a passer, but 9News’ Mike Klis writes a veteran will likely be added in free agency.

Kirk Cousins and Baker Mayfield are probably out of play for the Broncos, who are still $2.5MM over the cap following their Justin Simmons release. But after other cost-saving moves, the team will have a host of bridge options available. Jacoby Brissett, Ryan Tannehill, Gardner Minshew and Sam Darnold headline that list, and the volume of passers in free agency should lead to affordable options for teams looking to pair a rookie with a stopgap vet. The Broncos do have Jarrett Stidham tied to a $7MM base salary, and they plan to give him a chance. But it is possible two outside options will be joining the season-ending starter this offseason.

Here is the latest from the AFC West:

  • Chris Jones remains the Chiefs‘ top priority, but after rumblings the defending champions could retain the likely Hall of Famer before free agency, they are running short on time. Other clubs can begin talking to Jones at 11am CT March 11. Seeking at least $30MM per year, Jones remains Kansas City’s top priority. Some uncertainty exists if the Chiefs’ the near-year-long retention effort will succeed, but the Washington Post’s Jason La Canfora indicates the team is expected to devote more funds to its offense. After a wildly inconsistent receiver year, the Chiefs were believed to be interested in Mike Evans. Calvin Ridley, Marquise Brown and Gabe Davis are among the top options available, though it should also be expected the team — particularly if Jones is back on a monster contract — devotes a high draft choice to this group.
  • The Raiders appear to want to re-sign right tackle Jermaine Eluemunor, per ESPN’s Paul Gutierrez, who notes the team’s stopgap right tackle starter might be the highest priority among the team’s free agent O-linemen. That would be interesting given Andre James‘ presence as a younger UFA-to-be. Eluemunor joins James and guard Greg Van Roten as Raiders starting O-linemen set for free agency. Eluemunor has signed three Raiders contracts, receiving a notable raise (to $3MM) in 2023. Showing himself to be a capable starter instead of a swingman, the 29-year-old blocker has started 34 games for the Raiders — at both guard and right tackle — over the past three seasons.
  • Releasing their longest-tenured player earlier today, the Broncos will need to make a plan at safety. As Simmons searches for a new team, the Broncos also have P.J. Locke as an unsigned starter. The team is interested in keeping Locke, according to the Denver Gazette’s Chris Tomasson. Locke replaced the twice-suspended Kareem Jackson as a starter and played well during the team’s five-game midseason win streak, holding off Jackson for the gig alongside Simmons. Caden Sterns, who suffered a season-ending injury in Week 1, remains under contract.
  • While Locke should be expected to return, Klis does not anticipate Lloyd Cushenberry or Josey Jewell coming back. Cushenberry’s likely high price should be viewed as a borderline non-starter for a Broncos team that has three other veterans (Garett Bolles, Ben Powers, Mike McGlinchey) on veteran contracts and Quinn Meinerz as a potential extension candidate. Jewell, who joined Simmons as a holdover from Vance Joseph‘s HC years, discussed terms with the Broncos recently. But the six-year vet may be ticketed to leave Colorado as the team regroups after its failed Wilson extension.
  • The sports betting criminal case in Iowa against the former Denver fourth-round defensive lineman Eyioma Uwazurike will be dropped, Tomasson adds. A rotational player in 2021, Uwazurike drew a full-season ban for gambling on NFL games. Uwazurike’s NFL future is in doubt, but he can apply for reinstatement in July.

FA Notes: Chiefs, Jones, Evans, Titans, Pats, Giants, Panthers, Falcons, Jags, Bucs, Rams

Buzz about the Chiefs re-signing Chris Jones surfaced last week, and while that trail has gone a bit cold, some optimism still exists the defending champions can keep their top defender off the market. Many around the league do not expect Jones to leave Kansas City, per’s Jeremy Fowler, but they do not anticipate a discount coming to pass. Jones stuck to his guns last year during a holdout that cost him more than $3MM between fines and a missed game check; that would make it rather shocking if he agreed to a team-friendly deal now.

The Chiefs reaching the $27-$28MM-per-year range should help move this close to the finish line, Fowler adds. That said, Jones could probably — given the cap spike — make a run at Aaron Donald‘s $31.7MM AAV standard and the position’s guarantee record (Quinnen Williams‘ $66MM) if he reaches free agency. The Chiefs were not willing to go near the Donald AAV neighborhood during talks last year, and it will surely take a monster offer to keep Jones from testing free agency now.

With the legal tampering period less than a week away, here is the latest free agency news:

  • The Chiefs were also among the teams interested in Mike Evans, according to The Athletic’s Dianna Russini, who details what would have been a big market for the veteran wide receiver. Evans opted to re-sign with the Bucs on a frontloaded deal that included $29MM fully guaranteed. The Falcons, Giants, Jaguars, Panthers, Patriots, Rams and Titans were preparing to see what it could take to lure Evans out of Tampa. High-profile FAs regularly use the Combine to gauge markets before the legal tampering period, and Evans evidently determined this Bucs deal compared favorably to what he could have collected on the market. But with Tee Higgins and Michael Pittman Jr. franchise-tagged, Evans would have been the top WR available. That distinction may now fall to Calvin Ridley.
  • Speaking of the Bucs, they are not ruling out a reunion with Shaquil Barrett at a reduced rate, Jenna Laine of notes. Tampa Bay cut Barrett last week, removing an $18MM-per-year contract from their payroll. Barrett stands to generate interest as a street free agent, but the former Super Bowl standout and NFL single-season sack leader is going into an age-32 season and coming off a 4.5-sack showing in 2023.
  • Darnell Mooney may be one of the players who could benefit from Evans, Pittman and Higgins being off the market. Despite the Bears target failing to eclipse 500 receiving yards in each of the past two years, he posted a 1,000-yard season in 2021 and has been in a low-volume passing offense. Teams figure to check in on the deep threat, and’s Jeremy Fowler suggests the Chiefs and Titans as potential players. The Chiefs’ receiver woes were well documented last season, and they recently cut Marquez Valdes-Scantling. The Titans beat out the Chiefs for DeAndre Hopkins last year, but he is going into an age-32 season and signed for just one more year. Treylon Burks has also not shown much consistency yet.
  • Barring 11th-hour deals, this year’s safety market will feature Xavier McKinney and Kamren Curl. These two could do quite well without Antoine Winfield Jr. and Kyle Dugger in the mix, with’s Adam Caplan noting Curl’s market could come in around $14MM per year. A line of demarcation may emerge after these NFC East starters, with Sportskeeda’s Tony Pauline adding a lucrative second wave should not be expected to transpire at this position. This is how the 2023 market played out, with a gulf forming between Jessie Bates and the field. Though, multiple others (Juan Thornhill, Vonn Bell, Donovan Wilson) collected eight-figure guarantees.
  • The Rams have talked terms with Kevin Dotson‘s camp, per GM Les Snead. They expect both he and center Coleman Shelton to hit the market. Dotson delivered a big contract year and should be expected to become one of the top earners on a crowded guard market. The Rams want Shelton back as well.

Chiefs Expected To Tag CB L’Jarius Sneed

We’ve been hearing all week about the potential future of two of the Chiefs’ top defensive free agents. Defensive tackle Chris Jones and cornerback L’Jarius Sneed have received most of the offseason attention for the reigning Super Bowl champs. If Dianna Russini of The Athletic is right, the solution for Sneed could be here soon as Kansas City reportedly plans to tag him tomorrow.

This is not the first we’re hearing on this, but it is the first deadline we’ve gotten. First, after winning their second consecutive rings, both Jones and Sneed made it known that they wished to remain in Kansas City. This week, general manager Brett Veach informed the media that he anticipates utilizing the franchise tag this year. Later that day, reports rolled in that Sneed was the likely target of the tag but that both sides were open to a potential tag-and-trade situation if an extension was unable to be reached. Last we heard, Sneed was generating trade interest while optimism was growing around a new deal for Jones.

In today’s update, Russini informs that, while the team continues to work towards a new extension for Jones, Kansas City will officially place the franchise tag on Sneed tomorrow. If that’s the case, the Chiefs will then have until July 15 to work out an extension to keep Sneed in Missouri. Tag-and-trade maneuvers can still take place past that date, though, and the Chiefs are extremely familiar with that process, previously sending away Dee Ford and bringing in Frank Clark with that exact method.

As for the Jones part of the update, no new information here. Optimism has been growing throughout the week, and with the tag being applied to Sneed, the Chiefs will have no choice but to sign Jones to a new deal in order to keep him in red and yellow.

Growing Optimism Chiefs Will Re-Sign Chris Jones; L’Jarius Sneed Generating Trade Interest

Chris Jones balked at a Chiefs attempt to extend him on a deal far south of the Aaron Donald salary range. As the perennial All-Pro nears free agency, the team may be coming around to his price point.

Playing last season on his 2020 extension (four years, $80MM), Jones is believed to want a deal in the $30MM-per-year range, according to The Athletic’s Dianna Russini and Nate Taylor. Although the Chiefs were not prepared to go into that neighborhood to retain their top defender last year, they might be now. Growing optimism exists the sides agree to a deal before free agency, per Russini and Taylor (subscription required).

[RELATED: Chiefs Release WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling]

Jones has said he would like to stay in Kansas City, but it will be interesting — given a few factors — if the 29-year-old standout passes on testing the market. Considering Jones’ 2023 holdout, the developments on the D-tackle market over the past year and the salary cap’s $30MM-plus increase, it would be a slight surprise if the likely Hall of Fame-bound player passed on seeing what was out there. Players get hints of the market at the Combine, however, even though the legal tampering period (11am CT on March 11) represents the first instance communication with other clubs is allowed.

Jones’ holdout reached mid-September, with the eight-year veteran not reporting to the Chiefs until after their Week 1 game — a loss to the Lions. An incentive package ended up covering Jones for the fines incurred during for skipping training camp, penalties that surpassed $2MM. Jones also forfeited a $1.1MM game check by missing Week 1. His absence was noticeable, and the Chiefs brought him back into the fold with an incentive package.

The Chiefs were believed to be offering Jones $24MM per year, an AAV in the range of the Quinnen WilliamsJeffery SimmonsDexter LawrenceDaron Payne quartet that formed the top non-Donald tier at the position last year. Jones, now a five-time All-Pro, wanted Donald-level dough. He made a strong case for it again last season. The Chiefs needed a 49ers special teams miscue to tally a touchdown before overtime in Super Bowl LVIII, and a Jones rush stopped a 49ers OT drive to set up the game-winning score. Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes– and Travis Kelce-led offense took a backseat to a top-end pass defense last season, and the Jones-dependent unit led the way to a repeat championship. It is difficult to build more momentum toward a free agency windfall.

Donald was 31 when he threatened retirement and landed a three-year, $95MM Rams deal; Jones will not turn 30 until this summer. With the cap rising to $255.4MM, it would seem Donald’s $31.7MM AAV — which leads the DT market by more than $7MM — would be in reach for Jones.

With Nick Bosa scoring a $34MM-per-year pact from the 49ers, Jones is poised to do remarkably well if he hits the market. A deal that includes more than the $80MM the Steelers guaranteed T.J. Watt could well be in play. The Chiefs, who will need to make more moves (perhaps another Mahomes restructure) to create cap space before the 2024 league year opens March 13, do look to have a plan to help afford a third Jones contract. It involves bidding farewell to their other top free agent defender.

Since the report that indicated the Chiefs were preparing to tag L’Jarius Sneed but were willing to trade him emerged, Russini and Taylor indicate at least six teams have reached out about the ascending cornerback. The expectation is Sneed will end up in a tag-and-trade transaction, Sportskeeda’s Tony Pauline notes.

The Chiefs went to this well with Dee Ford in 2019, replacing him with Frank Clark. With most of Kansas City’s free agency budget going to Jones — if the franchise is to succeed in its top offseason mission — no CB replacement is likely en route. Instead, the Chiefs will likely do what they have done for most of Andy Reid‘s tenure: replace a starting corner from within. As the Marcus Peters, Steven Nelson, Kendall Fuller and Charvarius Ward exits show, the Chiefs have an M.O. when it comes to corners. Sneed is looking likely to be the latest Chiefs CB to become a one-contract player for the team.

The Chiefs, who were on the receiving end of tag-and-trade moves involving Matt Cassel (2009) and Clark (2019), are poised to pick up a quality asset for Sneed by using the tag here. And they have established a blueprint in which cornerbacks are replaceable; Jones has proven he is not.

Chiefs Prepared To Tag L’Jarius Sneed, Grant CB Permission To Seek Trade

1:46pm: No tag has been applied yet,’s Ian Rapoport notes (video link), adding the Chiefs are following through on the trade component regarding Sneed. They have given the emerging cornerback permission to seek a trade. The Super Bowl champs remain prepared to tag Sneed, but they might view assets obtained in a trade as more valuable.

In addition to the Ford and Clark tag-and-trade maneuvers under Reid, the Chiefs have benefited from the cost-controlled cogs brought in via the Tyreek Hill trade. The Chiefs, who created $12MM in cap space by releasing Marquez Valdes-Scantling today, may well be readying to clear the decks for a bigger Jones offer. They are cautiously optimistic on retaining Jones, per’s James Palmer. Either way, Sneed’s status as part of the 2024 roster appears a bit less certain now.

FEBRUARY 28, 9:06am: The Chiefs are believed to have gone through with the rumored tag, according to Bleacher Report’s Jordan Schultz. This will place a $19.8MM cap hold on Kansas City’s payroll, but it ensures Sneed will not reach the market. The Chiefs will keep their focus on a Jones deal, knowing they can revisit Sneed talks later due to the tag.

FEBRUARY 27: Shortly after Brett Veach indicated the Chiefs are likely to use their franchise tag this year, the expected recipient emerged. The Chiefs are preparing to tag L’Jarius Sneed,’s Jeremy Fowler reports.

A Sneed tag will cost the Chiefs $19.8MM, but they are not committed to carrying that lofty cap number on their books this year. The team has informed the standout cornerback it would be OK working out a trade if an extension cannot be reached, Fowler adds, noting Sneed is onboard with that plan. Kansas City will have until July 15 to extend Sneed, though tag-and-trade maneuvers can take place after that date.

[RELATED: 2024 NFL Franchise Tag Candidates]

A tag will only be applied if the Chiefs cannot reach a long-term deal with the fifth-year corner, The Athletic’s Dianna Russini tweets. Teams have until 3pm CT on March 5 to apply tags, giving the Chiefs a week to negotiate an extension. Doing so would bolster their chances of keeping Chris Jones, as a Sneed extension would reduce his 2024 cap hit compared to a tag. As for Jones, the team is still working on a deal. Veach said (via CBS Sports’ Jonathan Jones) they will meet with Jones’ camp tonight, but the sides have been at this since last summer.

Jones, 29, is less than two weeks from being free to speak with other teams as a free agent. The Chiefs are aiming to re-sign their top defender, but after tagging him in 2020, a second tag had been viewed as an unrealistic scenario. But this will ensure the Chiefs keep one of their two impact defenders off the market. The Jones matter could become a seminal moment as the Chiefs assemble their 2024 roster — which will be tasked with completing the first threepeat in the Super Bowl era — but it would have cost the team more than $32MM to tag the perennial All-Pro defensive tackle.

While the Chiefs trading Sneed would obviously hurt their defense, it would not be out of character based on the team’s Andy Reid-era moves at corner. Although Kansas City gave Sean Smith a midlevel deal in Reid’s first offseason in charge, they have shied away from paying corners since. The team traded Marcus Peters in 2018 and let starters Steven Nelson, Kendall Fuller and Charvarius Ward respectively depart during the 2019, 2020 and 2022 offseasons.

Sneed, 27, being tagged and then traded would mark a new chapter associated with the Chiefs’ penchant for making corners one-contract players. But this situation also could produce a pivot from the two-time reigning champs, signaling the organization may value a corner enough for a big-ticket extension. It could double as an effort to signal to a player like Trent McDuffie, who remains on a rookie contract, the Chiefs are not committed to letting CBs walk after their rookie deals expire. Both Sneed and McDuffie stood out during what became a defense-powered Chiefs championship season, and as of now, the young tandem will be poised to play together again in 2024.

A trade would be a fascinating play here. The Bears have long been rumored to be ready to tag Jaylon Johnson, though the sides are still negotiating ahead of the next week’s deadline. Chicago indeed tagging Johnson would then become a coveted commodity in a trade; both CBs being off the market would benefit the next wave of FA corners, with Fuller among them.

The Chiefs have gone to the tag-and-trade well before. They were on the receiving end off a Matt Cassel tag-and-trade in 2009; 10 years later, the team completed two tag-and-trade transactions in one offseason. After tagging Dee Ford and sending him to San Francisco, Kansas City acquired franchise-tagged defensive end Frank Clark from Seattle.

Tuesday’s news will put a Sneed swap in play, though it would be interesting to see the Chiefs both open to trading Sneed and being close to letting Jones hit the market. The Chiefs had a Clark deal in place upon trading for him; a Sneed trade could well involve another team having a contract in place as well, Fowler adds.

Asked to patrol the slot earlier in his career, Sneed shifted to a boundary role later. This brought positive results, elevating the former fourth-round pick’s stock. Last season, Sneed delivered an impact performance, regularly shadowing No. 1 wide receivers and allowing just a 56.2 passer rating as the closest defender. His goal-line strip of Zay Flowers stalled the Ravens’ momentum, helping the Chiefs hold on in the AFC championship game. Sneed has not yet garnered an All-Pro nod or a Pro Bowl honor, but he has now started for two Super Bowl-winning teams and been a regular defender in three Super Bowls.

Sneed stands to follow Tee Higgins among tagged players this year. The Chiefs do have McDuffie and two other 2022 draftees — Joshua Williams, Jaylen Watson — at corner. This younger crop and Kansas City’s past actions at corner would not make a trade a surprise.

Sneed also questioned whether the Chiefs would have enough money to pay both he and Jones. Before a Sneed tag is applied, the Chiefs will need to make moves to create cap space. They hold just more than $16MM. This tag’s near-$20MM cap hold will obviously make it more difficult to re-sign Jones, as teams will be watching to see if the future Hall of Fame defender will become available when the legal tampering period opens March 11.

Chiefs Expected To Use Franchise Tag

It appears at least one of the Chiefs’ top defensive free agents will be sticking around for the team’s threepeat bid. Brett Veach said (via’s James Palmer) he anticipates using the franchise tag this year.

This prediction stands to affect Chris Jones or L’Jarius Sneed, but it probably will pertain to the younger defender. While Veach said (via’s Charles Goldman) Jones remains the team’s top priority, tagging the perennial All-Pro will be prohibitive due to the team having cuffed him back in 2020. This points to Sneed being kept off this year’s market.

[RELATED: 2024 NFL Franchise Tag Candidates]

Although last week’s news regarding the salary cap will make Sneed more expensive to tag, it will still be more than $12MM cheaper for the two-time reigning champions to keep the four-year corner off the market compared to the eight-year DT. A Sneed tag will cost $19.8MM for the Chiefs, who will need to create cap space to make this move. As of Tuesday, the Chiefs hold just more than $16MM in cap room.

Showcasing the ability to play outside and in the slot over the course of his four-year career, Sneed delivered an impact contract year. Regularly covering No. 1 wide receivers and allowing just a 56.2 passer rating as the closest defender, the former fourth-round pick was indispensable for a suddenly defense-powered Chiefs team. This did not garner Sneed an All-Pro nod or a Pro Bowl honor, to the surprise of many, but he has now started for two Super Bowl-winning teams and been a regular defender in three Super Bowls.

If the Chiefs were to let Sneed hit the market, it is possible they would need to authorize a record-setting cornerback contract — based on the cap jumping to $255.4MM and the number of teams needing CB help — to retain him. The tag number now nearly matches Jaire Alexander‘s AAV ($21MM) that still sets the bar at this position. With the Bears likely to tag Jaylon Johnson, Sneed would move into position as the top corner available if permitted to reach the market. That appears unlikely to commence. This would represent a deviation for the Chiefs, who have not placed a high priority on paying corners under Andy Reid. The team has passed on doling out second contracts to Marcus Peters, Steven Nelson, Kendall Fuller and Charvarius Ward. Sneed appears set to be an exception.

A near-$20MM Sneed cap hold will turn up the heat on the Chiefs regarding Jones, who can begin speaking with other teams March 11 — when the legal tampering period begins. Though, the Combine regularly serves as a preview for what is out there for big-name free agents. Due to the 2020 tag, it would cost the Chiefs more than $32MM to tag their top defender.

Jones and the Chiefs could not come to terms on an extension last summer, leading to the likely Hall of Famer holding out into Week 1. An incentive package — and the threat of more missed game checks — brought Jones back, and he again played the lead role on Kansas City’s defense. Jones has said he wants to stay, but the sides are running out of time.

Considering the fines Jones incurred by missing practices and then Week 1, it would surprise if he did not see what was out there by testing the market. But the Chiefs will certainly try to prevent that from happening. The team aimed to extend Jones on a deal more in line with the younger crop of DTs that formed a new second tier at the position last summer, but Jones — who played out a four-year, $80MM extension last season — aimed for a deal closer to Aaron Donald‘s $31.7MM-AAV pact. After another dominant season (and the cap’s rise), the 29-year-old star will be in strong position to score a near-Donald-level accord soon.

Chris Jones Wants To Remain With Chiefs

FEBRUARY 16: The Chiefs have officially “picked up the option on” Jones’ contract, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. As mentioned below, the move was expected, as it allows Kansas City the option to franchise tag Jones moving forward. The move also pays out $4.25MM of incentives that Jones earned over the 2023 NFL season.

Tagging Jones still doesn’t appear to be the preferred route after he was previously tagged in 2020, and should the team choose not to exercise that option, Jones will be set to test free agency.

FEBRUARY 15: Chris Jones is currently slated to be one of the top defenders in the 2024 free agent class. Kansas City is aiming to retain him, however, and the desire for a new deal appears to be mutual.

When speaking at the team’s Super Bowl parade, Jones made it clear he intends to remain with the Chiefs for the foreseeable future (video link). His remarks carry less weight than tangible progress in contract talks, of course, but they point to a continued path existing for a new deal to be worked out. Finalizing an agreement is among the team’s top priorities, something head coach Andy Reid has confirmed.

“Yeah, listen, I think [general manager Brett] Veach has said it before — we’d love to have him back,” Reid said on Wednesday (video link). “They’ve just got to work all that out. But I think the effort will be there probably on both parts to try to get something done.”

Jones’ contract holdout left him out of the lineup for Week 1 of the 2023 season as he attempted to land a long-term deal at or near the level of Aaron Donald in terms of compensation. The Chiefs aimed for a lower AAV, and the parties ultimately reached a one-year agreement which left a franchise tag as an option for 2024. Such a move would come as a surprise, though, since it would cost more than $32MM due to Jones previously being tagged in 2020.

Talks with Jones on a deal which would provide multi-year clarity will, of course, be complicated by the fact L’Jarius Sneed is also set to reach the open market. The latter has proven himself to be a key member of one of the league’s best cornerback tandems while playing alongside 2022 first-rounder Trent McDuffie. Sneed could command a lucrative long-term pact with the Chiefs or another team if he were to reach free agency, but Tony Pauline of Sportskeeda notes the franchise tag could be in play in his case. The CB tag is slated to cost roughly $18.4MM in 2024, but Pauline writes there was chatter at the Senior Bowl Kansas City could use it to at least buy time to continue contract talks.

The Chiefs are currently mid-pack in terms of projected cap space, though new much of the team’s available resources will be needed to re-sign Jones and/or Sneed. Cost-shedding moves will take place in Kansas City in the near future, but the offseason will be defined in large part by the progress of talks with the two defensive stalwarts.

Chiefs Want To Re-Sign Chris Jones, L’Jarius Sneed

Beginning this season with Chris Jones holding out, the Chiefs found a bridge solution by providing incentives for the disgruntled defensive tackle. The sides will need to revisit the situation soon, and Kansas City’s secondary may require more attention than the team previously expected.

Jones and L’Jarius Sneed have one game remaining on their current contracts. Both standouts will be free to speak with other teams if unsigned by the start of the legal tampering period, which begins March 11. Jones will be gunning for a deal north of $30MM per year, and it will be interesting to see what kind of offers come in if/once he hits the open market. Sneed is playing out a banner contract year, and a longstanding Chiefs precedent would point to the fourth-year corner leaving in free agency. Before serious negotiations commence, the Chiefs want both players back.

Sometimes I look at our situation and I’m like, ‘I don’t know how we’re going to do this,’ but we usually work through things systematically and have a list of the priorities,” GM Brett Veach said, via’s Adam Teicher. “Certainly, Chris and LJ are at the top of the list. It’s extremely hard because you have two keystone players there.”

The Chiefs spent months negotiating with Jones during the 2023 offseason, reaching no long-term resolution. The team attempted to fit Jones in around the D-tackle salary tier created by younger, less accomplished players. Between March and July, four young DTs — Daron Payne, Jeffery Simmons, Dexter Lawrence, Quinnen Williams — created a second salary tier of sorts at the position, signing extensions that averaged between $22.5-$24MM. But Jones has played closer to the Aaron Donald level in recent years, arguably leapfrogging the all-time great as a pass rusher over the past two seasons. Jones, 29, sought a deal closer to the Donald number.

The Rams gave Donald what has been an outlier contract at the position — $31.7MM per year — in June 2022, and with Jones barely a month from free agency, he can soon see if teams will value him at or near that level. Donald used the threat of retirement to score a landmark Rams agreement, which featured no new years added to his previous contract. The open market figures to arm Jones with sufficient leverage, and Nick Bosa‘s subsequent $34MM-per-year pact stands to help. The former second-round pick entered this season as the NFL’s ninth-highest-paid D-tackle. Jones picked up his second straight first-team All-Pro honor this season, continuing to spearhead the Chiefs’ pass rush.

Kansas City is running out of time with Jones, who will cost north of $32MM to tag due to being tagged back in 2020. The 120% rule would make Jones’ 2024 tag price north of the standard DT figure. While Jones has said he would be open to staying, he has also recently acknowledged he could be in his final weeks as a Chief. Lacking steady edge rush options for most of Jones’ tenure, the Chiefs have relied on their interior pressure artist.

Preliminary Sneed talks also took place last year. Like Jaylon Johnson in Chicago, the contract-year cornerback has made quite a bit of money over the past few months. Regularly matched with No. 1 wide receivers, Sneed has produced coverage metrics that rival Johnson’s. While not named to the All-Pro teams or the Pro Bowl, Sneed has allowed a 51% completion rate as the closest defender and merely a 56.2 passer rating. Coverage metrics are far from perfect at this point in time, but Sneed has been one of the NFL’s best corners. His walk-year work represents a big reason why the Chiefs — and what has been an inconsistent offense, despite Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce‘s presences — are back in the Super Bowl.

Johnson is on track to be tagged, which would be the NFL’s first cornerback franchise tag since 2017 (Trumaine Johnson). Sneed would make more sense as a tag candidate for the Chiefs, with Jones’ franchise tender number so high.

It would cost the Chiefs just more than $18MM to tag Sneed. Then again, this franchise has regularly avoided paying corners under Andy Reid. Since trading Marcus Peters in 2018, the Chiefs let Steven Nelson, Kendall Fuller and Charvarius Ward collect their money elsewhere. While Sneed has been indispensable this season, the team does have 2022 first-rounder Trent McDuffie — a first-team All-Pro — in place on a rookie deal through at least 2025.

Kansas City will be connected to wide receiver upgrades, and despite that lingering issue set to bleed into the offseason, the Jones and Sneed matters stand as the team’s top priorities entering Veach’s eighth year as GM. At $24MM-plus (before restructures), the Chiefs sit in the middle of the pack for cap space.