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Chris Jones named to NFL.com’s “All-Paid Team of Tomorrow”

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The Chiefs defensive tackle is about to get paid — but how much?

Los Angeles Chargers v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

NFL.com’s Anthony Holzman published an article Thursday on which NFL players who will be paid the most tomorrow — that is, the NFL players who are next in line for big contracts. Kansas City Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones — with whom the Chiefs are already negotiating for his next contract — should certainly be on this list.

And by Holzman’s reckoning, he is.

Jones’ current AAV: $1.6 million

Jones can be a free agent in: 2020

Current highest AAV: Aaron Donald, Rams ($22.5 million)

Most guarantees: Donald ($86.892 million)

Most guaranteed at signing: Donald ($50 million)

Improving significantly in each of his three seasons, Jones ascended into the elite ranks of interior pass rushers in 2018, joining the likes of Aaron Donald and Fletcher Cox. Jones was one of just three players to post more than 14.0 sacks and 25 QB hits last season, along with Donald and Von Miller. He was one of the few bright spots on the Chiefs’ 31st-ranked defense.

The former second-round pick will have to string together a similar season in 2019 and possibly another in 2020 if the Chiefs decide to franchise-tag him. It might be awhile before someone surpasses Donald in the interior, but Jones has as good a chance as any to do it.

Holzman figures that Jones’ contract will end up in the range of $18-22 million per year, which is in line with other estimates we’ve seen. Spotrac currently lists Jones’ market value at $18 million per year.

But as we told you a couple of weeks ago, Jones could decide to bet on himself by playing out his rookie deal in 2019, hoping his value will increase enough he could land a more substantial contract — or play on the franchise tag in 2020 and possibly land an even bigger deal.

While that might generally be a valid strategy for a player in Jones’ position, it carries some risk; with a new defensive coordinator and scheme in place for 2019, it’s not a given that Jones’ production will hold steady. It’s also true — as Nate Christensen noted in his excellent FanPost — that Jones’ production could go up in Spagnuolo’s 4-3 Under scheme.

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson is also on the list; Holzman expects his new deal will be $34 million or more per year. But he sees Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes as an Under The Radar addition to his All-Paid of Tomorrow list.

Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs: In his first season as a starter, Mahomes threw for 5,097 yards and 50 touchdowns. Just two years into his rookie contract, he’s not eligible to renegotiate until next offseason, but whenever he signs his next deal, there’s only one question: How high will Mahomes set the AAV bar? $40 million? $45 million?

Another such mention went to Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce, who was listed with Zach Ertz behind San Francsico 49ers tight end George Kittle.

Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs and Zach Ertz, Philadelphia Eagles: Each is a wild card in the market. Clearly the two best tight ends in the NFL, Kelce and Ertz each have three seasons left on their current contracts. It’s possible one or both will get a new pact before Kittle.

Holzman expects Kittle to get a contract in the range of $12-15 million per year but does not explain why both Kelce and Ertz might get new deals before Kittle. The third-year 49er is under contract through 2020, and will be eligible to have his contract renegotiated after the coming season. Kelce and Ertz, on the other hand, are both under contract through 2021.

Finally, there is Tyreek Hill, who is also an additional mention behind Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones.

Tyreek Hill, Kansas City Chiefs: The game’s most explosive wide receiver, Hill ranks fourth in receiving yards and touchdowns over the last two seasons combined, despite still growing as a route runner and receiver. He also provides unmatched value on fourth down as a punt returner. Note that there is an ongoing law enforcement investigation into alleged battery of a juvenile in which Hill may be involved, which could obviously impact his future in the NFL.

Holzman figures that Jones will command money in the range of $18-20 million a year — exactly the range being thrown around on a contract extension that was reported to be under negotiation for Hill as late as March 5.

We now know, of course, that police were first called to Hill’s home with regard to this alleged incident on that same day. Even though the public didn’t become aware of it until March 15, no additional reports of any negotiations with Hill turned up after police were called to his home in early March. This suggests that if Hill plays for the Chiefs in 2019 — something we cannot take for granted while the investigation continues — he will likely be continuing to play on his rookie deal.