Just after their 2018 season ended with a heartbreaking loss in the AFC championship game, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported that the Kansas City Chiefs had three players they considered as priorities in their upcoming contract negotiations: wide receiver Tyreek Hill, linebacker Dee Ford and defensive tackle Chris Jones.
Even though there were times during the 2019 offseason when there was substantial doubt that he would ever play another snap in Kansas City, only Hill was signed to a contract extension. Ford ended up with the franchise tag and was traded to the San Francisco 49ers for a second-round draft pick.
Now — almost 17 months later — Jones remains without a contract. And time is running out. Jones and the team have until July 15 — just one month from this article’s posting — to agree to a long-term deal.
If a new contract isn’t signed by then, one of three things will happen:
- Jones will sign the franchise tender and play the 2020 season for $16.1 million.
- He will choose to sit out for a while — up to as long as through the 10th week of the season — before signing the tender. Regardless of what he chooses to do, he may only play for the Chiefs in 2020.
- The Chiefs will rescind the tag, clearing $16.1 million from their salary cap in 2020 and making Jones a free agent.
As recently as this past February, Chiefs general manager Brett Veach said that getting Jones signed to a deal was “a priority” and that Jones was “at the top of that list” for the Chiefs to re-sign. Since the league year began in mid-March, the Chiefs have often indicated that they are continuing to work with Jones’ camp to sign a new deal. But just over two weeks ago, there was a report saying the two sides have had no contact since mid-March.
Obviously, all of those things can’t be true. So we can’t say for sure that the two sides are even talking to each other right now.
We could say there is still plenty of time to get a deal done — because there is. It wouldn’t be the first time in NFL history that during the course of a month, “no progress in negotiations” somehow became happy smiles over a signed contract.
But after all... we all said there was plenty of time 17 months ago.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article said that if Jones’ franchise tag were to be rescinded, the Chiefs could be awarded a compensatory draft pick in 2021. This was incorrect. Since he could then only be signed by another team after the first Monday following the NFL Draft — the end of the NFL’s free agency period — his movement from the Chiefs to another team would not count in the comp picks formula. We regret the error.