Right now, the Kansas City Chiefs’ focus is defeating the San Francisco 49ers in Sunday’s Super Bowl. But shortly after the game — whether it results in a parade or not — the team will have to make some difficult decisions about its future.
Everyone realizes quarterback Patrick Mahomes will likely earn somewhere around $200 million — and that already has players like wide receiver Sammy Watkins doing some thinking. Watkins explained this morning that he may be open to a pay cut to stay with the Chiefs.
And then there is the question of defensive tackle Chris Jones, who led the Chiefs in sacks in 2018, only to watch the team trade for defensive end Frank Clark and make him the third-highest paid lineman in the NFL. Jones was apparently a priority for the team last offseason, but the team could not come to an agreement.
Jones held out of offseason activities before showing up for training camp, as sitting out much longer wouldn’t have done him any good.
In a sense, he bet on himself. Then — despite missing three games — he led the team in sacks again in 2019. All that considered, Jones — who is on the final year of his rookie contract — wants to remain in Kansas City past Sunday.
How badly does Chris Jones want to remain in Kansas City past Sunday's game? pic.twitter.com/bfGZG04eMa— Arrowhead Pride (@ArrowheadPride) January 30, 2020
“That’s always been the plan,” said Jones on Wednesday. “I try not to think about it — because you know the business side of it. That’s why I don’t really talk about it. I don’t think about it. I just focus on the season. I let my agents handle that.”
Jones missed the divisional round against the Houston Texans but returned for the AFC title game against the Tennessee Titans, registering two tackles and a quarterback hit. Jones was on a limited snap count in that game but expects a regular workload in the Super Bowl.
According to Pro Football Focus’ free-agent rankings, Jones is the seventh-best available player on the board and the site’s top defensive player.
Back in April, before the season, NFL dot com projected that Jones would be somewhere in the range of $18-22 million. His representation may now be asking for more than that after another solid year.
The Chiefs do have options. They could work out a new deal with Jones or franchise tag him, which means he would make an average of the top five salaries at his position. Once tagged, they could shop Jones’ rights to other teams — just as Seattle did with Clark — which is why he became available for the Chiefs.
Still, asked directly, Jones says he wants to remain in Kansas City.
“1,000 percent,” he said. “The fans know how much I love Kansas City. The fans see the type of passion I play with. They see my passion for staying in Kansas City, and they see how I interact with them. They know that I want to stay in Kansas City.”
Will Sunday be Chris Jones’ last game as a Chief?
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