September 15th, 2023 at 1:55pm CST by Sam Robinson
SEPTEMBER 15: After practicing during the week, Kelce will indeed take the field in Week 2, Reid confirmed on Friday (via Teicher). With both he and Jones in the fold, the Chiefs will be well-positioned to rebound from their season-opening performance as they look to repeat last year’s postseason win over the Jaguars.
While it was already known Jones would be in the lineup on Sunday, SI’s Albert Breer notes the team will monitor his workload closely. No pitch count is planned as of now, but after missing all of training camp, it will be interesting to see how much he will see the field in his return.
SEPTEMBER 13: Patrick Mahomes looks like he will have more help against the Jaguars than he did against the Lions. The Chiefs will have Travis Kelce back at practice Wednesday, marking a good step for the future Hall of Fame tight end.
Kelce will log a limited practice session today, which represents a positive sign for his prospects of suiting up in Jacksonville. Kelce missed Week 1 after suffering a hyperextended knee and a bone bruise during the Tuesday practice leading up to Kansas City’s Week 1 game against Detroit. Seeing as the Chiefs had not been without Kelce due to injury since 2013, his absence proved noticeable in a game in which both Mahomes and Kansas City’s inexperienced receiving corps struggled.
Jones pushed his holdout longer than Zack Martin or Nick Bosa and did not achieve what he sought — an Aaron Donald-level extension. While he is a strong candidate to reach free agency, the Chiefs have not given up on an extension that would keep him in Missouri on a long-term third contract. The Chiefs having franchise-tagged Jones in 2020 would run his 2024 tag number past $32MM. For perspective, it cost the Commanders $18.94MM to tag D-tackle Daron Payne this year.
Although the Lions’ run game moving the chains on a Jones-less defensive front helped key the upset victory, the Chiefs’ passing attack became a bigger story. Kansas City won Super Bowl LVII after trading Tyreek Hill, but the team also relied on Kelce and, to a lesser extent, JuJu Smith-Schuster last season. Reid confirmed the Chiefs were not close to matching the Patriots’ three-year, $25.5MM Smith-Schuster offer, and while plans for Kadarius Toney as a WR1 existed early this offseason, the ex-Giants first-rounder has proven inconsistent at every turn since being drafted. The injury-prone wideout’s drops plagued the Chiefs in Week 1, with their other young receivers not moving the needle much during a sluggish opener. A first- or second-team All-Pro selection in seven straight years, Kelce returning will at least provide a sturdy safety net for Mahomes.
In other Chiefs news, they restructured veteran guard Joe Thuney‘s deal. The move, which ESPN’s Field Yates notes frees up $8.7MM in cap space, will make room for Jones’ $19.5MM base salary. Jones had resided on K.C.’s reserve/did not report list. Thuney, who signed a $16MM-per-year deal in 2021, is under contract through the 2025 season. The Chiefs will need to make a decision on the 31-year-old blocker by next year, when his cap number spikes to $26.97MM. Thuney will almost certainly not be brought back at that rate, pointing to another contract-related move coming.
September 13th, 2023 at 3:39pm CST by Adam La Rose
Questions about how long Chris Jones‘ holdout would last were answered on Monday when he agreed to a new one-year deal with the Chiefs. The fact he is still set for free agency at the end of the campaign leaves his future in doubt, but he reiterated his desire to remain in Kansas City when speaking publicly about his situation.
Jones was absent from training camp and the Chiefs’ Week 1 loss, decisions which led to over $2MM in fines and a missed game check of $1.1MM. Incentives in his reworked pact will allow the All-Pro to recoup the money he walked away from, and a massive statistical performance (coupled with team success) would allow him to slightly outpace the earnings he was originally scheduled for. With an agreement in place, Jones is set to make his 2023 debut in Week 2.
“I’m super pleased with how it turned out,” the 29-year-old said when asked about his decision to return to the team, via ESPN’s Adam Teicher. “I’m back in the building. I’m excited to be back, thankful for the organization. They [were] able to boost my salary up to make up for the fines and everything. I’m super grateful for that.”
Jones’ presence will be a welcomed sight for a team which has relied heavily on his interior pass-rushing abilities during his career. He matched a personal best with 15 sacks last season, and reaching that mark again will trigger one of several play-time and performance-based incentives in his new contract. With no new years added to his pact, though, it remains to be seen if team and player will remain interested in continuing their relationship beyond this season.
A report from yesterday indicated that is the case. Jones – who could still be franchise tagged in March, if resumed extension negotiations fail to produce a multi-year accord bringing his annual compensation closer to that of Aaron Donald, the leading DT earner – confirmed he holds no ill will toward the organization and is hopeful a free agent departure will not ensue.
“I think you as a reporters and fans kind of misconstrue the contract thing,” he added. “It is never personal. I don’t think I started hating Coach [Andy] Reid or I started disliking [GM Brett] Veach. I love Veach. He knows I love him. We had on and off conversation throughout it all… I don’t think our relationship was affected any [by] that. They know how much I love this organization. They know how much I love this team, and I don’t think that affected any part of our relationship.”
Michael Dogbe has found his next gig after getting waived by the Jaguars during final cuts. The former seventh-round pick spent the first four seasons of his career with the Cardinals, appearing in 40 games. He took on a bigger role over the past two years, compiling 55 tackles in 29 appearances. He joined Jacksonville this offseason before earning his walking papers.
Myles Gaskin is back on an active roster following an unceremonious end to his Miami tenure. The running back had 1,818 yards from scrimmage across the 2020 and 2021 seasons, but he saw a limited role with the Dolphins in 2022. He joined the Vikings practice squad at the end of the preseason and was elevated to the active roster for their season opener.
Jones’ contract still runs only through season’s end, and with the franchise tag prohibitive due to the Chiefs having tagged him 2020, has a decent chance to reach free agency next year. But the Chiefs have not ruled out keeping Jones on another deal, per SI.com’s Albert Breer, who adds there is no bad blood in this situation.
Both Jones and the Chiefs are open to revisiting talks on a contract that would keep the All-Pro in Kansas City beyond this year, Breer adds. Though, the Chiefs not being willing to move into Aaron Donald territory for Jones now obviously runs the risk of the dominant interior pass rusher leaving in March. The Chiefs’ exclusive negotiating rights with Jones run until the 2024 legal tampering period. Without the franchise tag as a likely deterrent, as it would run the Chiefs more than $32MM to cuff Jones in 2024, the team would enter crunch time with its top defender between season’s end and the tampering period that kicks off free agency.
This situation also reminds of the Chiefs’ failed negotiations with Orlando Brown Jr., who cited insufficient guarantees in the team’s offer before the July 2022 deadline to extend franchise-tagged players. Although the Chiefs could have re-tagged the Pro Bowl left tackle for just less than $20MM, they passed and let Brown hit the market. Brown’s overall money with the Bengals (four years, $64.1MM) did not match the Chiefs’ proposal (six years, $139MM), but the veteran blocker will collect $42.35MM over the Cincinnati pact’s first two years and be better positioned for another big-ticket deal sooner. The Chiefs proposal included $38MM guaranteed at signing.
In terms of age and accomplishments, Jones (29) would be poised to become one of the best defensive players to hit free agency in many years. It would be interesting to see what kind of market would form for the longtime Chiefs defensive centerpiece. With the salary cap expected to balloon in the $250MM range — which would mark a substantial increase from this year’s ceiling ($224.8MM) — it would seemingly be difficult for the Chiefs to finalize an agreement with Jones between season’s end and the market opening. But some time remains before that point.
With none of these players hitting the market, Jones could be months away from finding out what a top-flight D-lineman is worth when a bidding war ensues. For now, however, the eighth-year D-tackle will aim to help the Chiefs shake off an 0-1 start and attempt to defend their Super Bowl title.
September 12th, 2023 at 8:45am CST by Adam La Rose
SEPTEMBER 12: Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk notes the new deal has the same base value of $19.5MM as it did before (minus the $1.1MM Jones lost out on by missing Week 1). Incentives can push its value as high as $25.17MM, though, meaning Jones has the potential to come out slightly ahead of what he would have earned by not holding out and incurring more than $3MM in financial penalties.
$2MM is available via playing time incentives, and Jones will earn that amount with a snap share of at least 50%. An additional $1.75MM is in place if he records 15 sacks, and another $1MM for again receiving a first-team All-Pro nod. A Defensive Player of the Year award and another Super Bowl will yield an extra $2MM.
Notably, ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler adds the Chiefs will still have the option of franchise tagging Jones at the end of the season. Doing so would come at a cost of roughly $32.4MM, representing a 120% increase from his 2023 cap hit of $27MM. That would be a pricey endeavor on Kansas City’s part, but it would prevent Jones from hitting the open market in his bid to land another multi-year accord.
SEPTEMBER 11: After a high-profile holdout, Chris Jonesis set to return to the field. The All-Pro defensive tackle has agreed to a revised one-year contract with the Chiefs, as his agency announced on Monday. The team has confirmed the news.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that no new years have been added to Jones’ deal, meaning he is still only on the books for 2023. He adds, however, that Jones can earn “considerably more money” than the $19.5MM in salary he was originally due to make given the presence of incentives on this new agreement.
Jones was absent from the team through training camp, a move which resulted in more than $2MM in fines being racked up. The threat of forfeited weekly game checks did not seem to dissuade his holdout lasting through the start of the regular season, as he hinted at an absence stretching into Week 8. That will no longer be the case, though the 29-year-old added to the compensation he has walked away from by missing a $1.1MM game check in the Chiefs’ season-opening loss.
After seeing a number of young defensive tackles sign lucrative second contracts, Jones made it clear he was aiming to move much closer to Aaron Donaldin terms of annual compensation. The latter’s $31.67MM AAV was unmatched in terms of all defensive players until Nick Bosasigned a record-breaking 49ers extension last week. Still, a gap existed between Donald and a pack of other DTs (led by Quinnen Williams) with respect to earnings and guaranteed money. Jones appears to have met his goal of at least moving into second in the position’s market.
No long-term deal has been worked out, meaning Jones will still be able to hit the open market in March. That is, of course, unless this new agreement does not include a provision preventing the Chiefs from being able to use the franchise tag to keep Jones in place for 2024. Such a move would be likely if the Mississippi State alum were to continue his high-end production, which included 15.5 sacks last season (matching a career high) en route to helping the Chiefs to another Super Bowl title.
“Chris is an elite player in this league, and over the last seven years, he’s really developed into a leader on our team,” general manager Brett Veach said in a statement. “He’s been instrumental to our success and Super Bowl championship runs and it was a priority for us to keep him in a Chiefs uniform… Through this process two things were obvious, Chris wanted to be a Chief, and the Katz brothers worked diligently on his behalf.”
While further details are yet to emerge, Jones is now set to make his return, something which will pay substantial dividends for the defending champions. It will be interesting to see where he winds up relative to Donald in terms of earning power and the structure of his reworked pact.
September 11th, 2023 at 2:38pm CST by Sam Robinson
SEPTEMBER 11: With the Chiefs’ Week 1 loss in the books, they are no closer to working out an agreement with Jones, Jay Glazer of Fox Sports notes (video link). The All-Pro is in line to continue missing $1.1MM in game checks for every week which he remains absent, which will progressively lessen his financial gain if/when an extension is signed. However, CBS Sports’ Jonathan Jones adds that the two-time Super Bowl winner is aiming for a figure close to Donald in its own right, not to simply sit second in the DT pecking order. With no progress being made, the parties appear likely to remain at an impasse.
Jones may be at Arrowhead Stadium tonight, but NFL.com’s James Palmer notes the All-Pro defensive tackle would be stationed in a suite — to watch the Chiefs raise a third Super Bowl banner — as his teammates suit up to face the Lions. While an interesting development given Jones’ current circumstances, the Chiefs are believed to be OK with the D-tackle holdout being present for the pregame ceremony.
The seven-year veteran said Wednesday (via The Athletic’s Nate Taylor) he could suit up tonight were a deal agreed to, but both NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport and Mike Garafolo indicate nothing is close (videolinks). This refrain has persisted for weeks, leading to this undesired outcome. Jones will miss Kansas City’s first game, and while a 10-day gap resides between now and the team’s Week 2 trip to Jacksonville, Nick Bosa‘s five-year, $170MM extension introduced a new complication into these proceedings.
The Chiefs had attempted to treat Aaron Donald‘s $31.7MM-per-year Rams pact as an outlier, aiming to have Jones’ third contract come in closer to the recently formed second tier Quinnen Williams currently tops (at $24MM AAV). Jones was connected to a $30MM-per-year ask earlier this summer but was recently tied to a $28MM-AAV aspiration. The Chiefs, in turn, are believed to have offered a $24.7MM extension. With Bosa now at $34MM per year, that could lead to another snag here.
Donald has held the top D-tackle salary since he signed a six-year Rams extension just before the 2018 season; the Rams authorized a landmark raise (with no new years added) after a retirement threat. While Donald’s 2022 update still leads the pack at D-tackle by a wide margin, Bosa’s new AAV affects the pass rusher market on the whole. With Jones being the only pure defensive tackle in the sack era (1982-present) with two 15-sack seasons, the Chiefs cornerstone may adjust his argument after seeing Bosa’s holdout alter the pass-rushing salary landscape.
Indicating he did not want to be a distraction to his teammates as a hold-in, Jones confirmed (viaTaylor) he is seeking a raise ahead of the final season of a four-year, $80MM contract. Jones wants more money upfront in his next deal, Garafolo adds. Williams’ $47.8MM guarantee at signing tops all defensive tackles. T.J. Watt‘s $80MM had led the way for all defenders, but Bosa’s not-yet-known full guarantee number almost definitely surpasses it. Jones, 29, is likely seeking a guarantee well north of Williams’ number.
This holdout happening entirely to avoid distracting his teammates would be quite the expensive gesture on Jones’ part. The former second-round pick has racked up $2MM-plus in nonwaivable fines. The 49ers were able to waive Bosa’s due to his holdout occurring on a rookie contract. Floating out the possibility his return may not happen until the Week 8 deadline for a player to report and earn an accrued season toward free agency, Jones is the last holdout standing. Rumors this impasse would be resolved before training camp once circulated. He will soon follow in Donald’s footsteps by missing Week 1 on a holdout. Would Jones really be prepared to sacrifice more than $10MM in total by showing up around the midseason point?
SEPTEMBER 6: While Kelce is dealing with significant swelling, Rapoport indicates he suffered a bone bruise. Considering the range of outcomes possible in the wake of this knee injury, the Chiefs appear to have dodged a bullet here.
SEPTEMBER 5, 3:48pm: Kelce remains uncertain to play in Week 1, per Rapoport and NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero, but this is not believed to be a serious knee injury. The Chiefs plan to wait for the swelling in the injured knee to subside before making a decision. Kelce’s ACL is intact, ESPN’s Adam Schefter adds. While it would not surprise to see the Chiefs exercise caution here given Kelce’s importance to the offense, it does not look like a long-term absence would be in the cards. Indeed, SI.com’s Albert Breer adds it is unlikely Kelce plays Thursday.
1:13pm: After missing nearly his entire rookie season due to a knee injury, Travis Kelce has become one of the NFL’s most durable players. But his status for Week 1 is suddenly in question.
Kelce suffered a hyperextended knee, per Andy Reid, and is not a lock to play in the Chiefs’ season opener. The injury occurred at practice Tuesday, NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport tweets. The perennial All-Pro tight end has not missed a game due to injury since his 2013 rookie season.
On a better note for the defending Super Bowl champions, Kadarius Toney is practicing. Reid expects the injury-prone receiver to play against the Lions, ESPN’s Ed Werder tweets. Toney, who has battled a number of maladies since entering the league in 2021, missed several weeks after suffering a torn meniscus minutes into training camp. The Chiefs listed Toney and Kelce as limited practice participants.
Moving into Hall of Fame lock territory since pairing with Patrick Mahomes, Kelce did not truly begin his career until his age-25 season due to undergoing microfracture surgery during his rookie year. Unlike Jadeveon Clowney, who underwent the same procedure a year later, Kelce has not battled knee trouble in the seasons since. He has only missed three regular-season games — two due to Reid sitting starters in season finales, one due to COVID-19 — since returning in time for the 2014 opener.
Going into his age-34 season, Kelce has become one of the NFL’s all-time greats at tight end. He is riding a seven-year streak of 1,000-yard seasons; no other tight end has tallied more than four 1,000-yard years in total. The Chiefs relied on Kelce last season, trading Tyreek Hill and using a cast of lesser wide receivers, and got by in large part due to the receiving tight end’s consistency. Kelce set a new career high with 110 receptions, and his 1,338 yards approached his tight end-record 1,416 from 2020. It would obviously be quite the adjustment for the Chiefs to play without Kelce, considering their receiver makeup.
Toney represents a key part of that receiving group, but the Chiefs may look to limit the shifty wideout. Lower-body injuries have followed Toney from New York to Kansas City. Ankle, quad, oblique and knee trouble has plagued Toney, with an onslaught of hamstring issues – which at one point saw the talented youngster sidelined because of injuries to both legs – impeding his 2022 efforts. While Toney still recovered in time to make key contributions in Super Bowl LVII, his track record has reached the point he might not be able to handle a full receiver workload.
Additionally, the daily Chris Jones update does not bring good news for the Chiefs. Still no progress in negotiations, per Reid. Both Kelce and Jones played all 20 Chiefs contests last season. While Jones has been trending toward missing this game for a bit now, the eighth-year defensive tackle is close to missing a $1.1MM game check.
Aaron Donald skipped Week 1 while holding out in 2017, but he was attached to a rookie contract and the Rams ended up waiving his fines and paying him for the game week missed. The current CBA prevents the Chiefs from waiving the fines Jones incurred for missing training camp; that number has surpassed $2MM. Jones continues to target a deal closer to Donald’s $31.7MM AAV than the D-tackle’s second salary tier. Rumblings about a $28MM-per-year middle ground have surfaced, but Jones remains unsigned.
September 3rd, 2023 at 10:17pm CST by Adam La Rose
The Chiefs’ title defense begins on Thursday, but it remains to be seen if they will have Chris Jonesavailable for Week 1 or any point early in the campaign. Plenty of progress still needs to be made for an agreement to be reached between team and player in this situation.
Jones, who has one year remaining on his current pact and is due a base salary of $19.5MM in 2023, has been absent from the team throughout the offseason. That has resulted in a major accumulation of fines during the summer and the chance of just over $1MM in missed game checks per week if he continues to hold out. Jones, 29, has previously suggested he is willing to remain on the sidelines until Week 8, the latest point at which he can return to the field with a year of service time accruing.
Talks on an new deal have have ramped up recently, and the team remains confident that one will be worked out to some point. As NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reports, however, the sides are still at an impasse and Jones is therefore absent for today’s practice. That points further to the the All-Pro being sidelined for the season opener and adding to his financial penalties. Jones has already racked up approximately $2MM in fines and missed out on a $500K workout bonus, and little clarity exists with respect to when he will be back in the fold.
Confirming the uncertainty on the team’s part, head coach Andy Reid said, “You’re never sure how it’s going to work out. You deal with too many people in this type of thing. These things can go any direction. I don’t want to spend too much time on it. We had 90 guys in the offseason that I was making sure were going in the right direction, and now we’re getting ready to play a game. That’s how I go about it” (h/t Dave Skretta of the Associated Press).
Jones has been seeking a deal similar (if not larger) in value to Aaron Donald‘s market-resetting extension signed last offseason. The $31.67MM AAV of that pact comfortably exceeds what the numerous extension-eligible DTs landed in recent months on their own deals, and the Chiefs are reportedly willing to offer Jones a contract which would place him in the vicinity of the other second-tier earners at the position. The four-time Pro Bowler, by contrast, is thought to be seeking a deal putting him behind only Donald in the pecking order.
In an informative breakdown of the situation, Over the Cap’s Jason Fitzgerald details the fact that the value of extension offers depend on whether or not they are viewed through the lens of new money or strictly total compensation including what is already owed. In Jones’ case, the former approach (which is standard in the NFL) yields an AAV of $27.5MM regarding the Chiefs’ reported three-year offer and a figure of $32.5MM per year with respect to the counter-offer of the same length.
Kansas City’s defense will look much different on the interior presuming Jones does indeed miss regular season action in 2023. Time has likely run out for Week 1 participation at this point, but his negotiations on an extension will no doubt remain a talking point well after Thursday’s contest if no deal is reached.
Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com has more insight into, and it sounds like Kansas City’s offer is a bit higher than those second-tier DT salaries. A source tells Florio that the organization is offering Jones a three-year, $74MM deal that would wipe out the $19.5MM the player is set to earn in 2023. $70MM of that money would be guaranteed for injury.
That would come in around a $24.67MM AAV. Florio writes that Jones would be willing to split the difference between the offer and Donald’s contract at around $28MM per year. So, that means there’s around a $10MM total difference in value between the two offers (a hypothetical three-year, $74MM offer from the Chiefs vs. a three-year, $84MM request from Jones).
There’s no true deadline for the two sides to agree to an extension, but the defensive tackle has hinted that he could sit out until Week 8 if he doesn’t receive a new deal. In that scenario, Jones would be facing significant fines.
It sounds like the Chiefs are preparing to be without Jones, who finished third in Defensive Player of the Year voting after compiling 15.5 sacks in 2022. Still, that hasn’t stopped teammates from pushing for his return. Kelce admitted during his recent podcast that he doesn’t understand the player’s hold out while pleading for the pass-rusher’s return.
“Chris, can you please come back?” Kelce said (via ESPN’s Adam Teicher). “You’re really scaring me, man. I don’t get it. You must know something that I don’t know because I just don’t get it. I really want to get another Super Bowl ring with you, brother. This is me bargaining you to just come back and play football for the Chiefs. Please, we need you. We need you bad, and I don’t know what the situation is.”
Meanwhile, head coach Andy Reid finally addressed Jones’ absence, telling reporters that he won’t criticize the player’s decision to hold out.
“Chris has chosen to go this route,” Reid said on Friday (via Teicher). “Some other guys have chosen to get their deals done and come in and play. I’m not here to criticize one way or the other. We’ve had a lot of success with the guys that we have, and we go with it.
“Other than that, I take the distractions and throw them out the door and let’s get on with what’s real.”
The Chiefs open the season on Thursday against the Lions. Unless the two sides can make up significant ground in negotiations, the Chiefs will be without their defensive leader for the start of their Super Bowl defense.