Saturday’s Jones news started bubbling again early on Tuesday morning. First there was a report that there was a 50-50 chance Jones would sign a new contract. By late morning, the news was out.
With just over 24 hours remaining before the NFL deadline at 3 p.m. (Arrowhead Time) on Wednesday, Jones is now the league’s only franchise or transition-tagged player to be signed to a new contract. [Editor’s note: Two more franchise-tagged players would eventually sign deals before the deadline.]
The team has considered Jones’ deal as one of their priorities ever since the end of the 2018 season. But a year ago, other things kept getting in the way — such as the drama surrounding wide receiver Tyreek Hill, the trade for defensive end Frank Clark and the free-agent signing of safety Tyrann Mathieu. As it turned out, all three players ended up playing vital roles in the team’s 2019 Super Bowl LIV victory — the Chiefs’ first since the 1969 season.
As Kansas City Chiefs fans began their Saturday, man had already resolved themselves to the possibility that defensive tackle Chris Jones would not be signed to a long-term deal before the coming Wednesday deadline; at last word, the two sides weren’t talking. But then there was a glimmer of hope.
Appearing on the network’s flagship “SportsCenter” telecast on Saturday, ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler said that the Kansas City Chiefs are talking with their defensive tackle Chris Jones.
“I’m told the Chiefs and Jones have begun talking,” said Fowler, “which is a big victory because it’s been quiet for months on that front; they’ve really had no communication. They’ve at least started negotiating. The Chiefs got the Patrick Mahomes deal done. They’d like to move on to Jones, who is considered a top-three defensive tackle, but that’s going to cost them well over $20 million. It’s just unclear how far they’re willing to go at this point, but they want to keep one of their best players.”
The team placed a non-exclusive franchise tag on Jones in March, which was the latest concrete move in an on-and-off contract negotiation that’s been going on ever since the end of the 2018 season.
More hope emerged on Sunday, when Jones tweeted that “Vibes are unmatched.”
With Jones still on our minds, we turned to other Chiefs new on Monday — including a report that tight end Travis Kelce was trying to buy a piece of a major league baseball franchise.
Kelce is part of group that includes former Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher, former NFL All-Pro running back DeMarco Murray and former Cleveland Browns offensive lineman Joe Thomas — along with two NBA stars: the Washington Wizards’ Bradley Beal and the Denver Nuggets’ Mason Plumlee.
And oh, yes... a famous couple: movie and television star Jennifer Lopez and her companion, who is former uber-baseball star Alex Rodriguez. Lopez and Rodriguez are each reported to have put up $300 million of their own money to lead the group, which has made an an initial offer of $1.7 billion for the team.
Monday’s Mailbag Edition of the Arrowhead Pride Laboratory podcast weighed the Chiefs players that would be the most difficult to replace — and had at least one surprising answer.
For a stretch of 2019, the Kansas City Chiefs went without Tyreek Hill and were still able to survive. That’s largely because of the impact Kelce makes on a game — and on the game plans of defensive coordinators. Since he is such a unique player with a rare skillset, the gap between him and any other tight end on the roster is massive. The Chiefs love to isolate Kelce on the back side of formations, forcing defenses to figure out not only how to treat him, but which coverage to play. No one forces that dilemma the same way Kelce does. As we saw in the playoff game against the Houston Texans, Kelce can dominate corners — even big ones — because of his wide receiver skillset. He’s a special player — one without a replacement.
By mid-afternoon, we had instant analysis of the signing from our Matt Stagner.
Chris Jones: The big guy secured the bag, grabbing headlines with a $85 million contract that (on paper) averages more than the $21 million per year he had reportedly been seeking. He has been guaranteed $37 million of that money at signing, which should go a long way towards securing his family’s financial future. He got significant guarantees against injury ($60 million total) — and when this contract expires, he’ll still be turning 30. Tuesday might not be his last payday.
The Kansas City Chiefs: By taking care of one of their own, the Chiefs are sending a message to their players and potential future free agents across the league. Jones outperformed his second-round rookie contract — and now he is being handsomely rewarded for it. Having locked up their franchise quarterback and several other significant pieces for the long term, the Super Bowl champion Chiefs will continue to be a preferred destination — now more than ever.
We also gave you reactions from Patrick Mahomes and other Chiefs teammates, plus a quick look at how Jones and Frank Clark could be the next great Chiefs pass rushing duo.
Our analysis of the signing continued on Wednesday.
3. Brett Veach can always surprise you
If you had “Chris Jones signs a long-term contract with no signing bonus” on your offseason bingo card, please raise your hand.
Now put your hand down, OK? Everyone knows that wasn’t on your bingo card.
The Chiefs general manager continues to make gutsy moves that take us by surprise. Just a week ago, he signed a franchise quarterback to a record-setting $503 million contract with a signing bonus of just $10 million — another move that no one had on their card — but even then, we expected that after that unusual deal, Veach would return to more familiar territory.
So much for that idea.
And with Jones back in the fold, the Chiefs continue to set the stage for their Run it Back tour.
Both the Chiefs offense and defense will return 10 of the 11 starters in Super Bowl LIV. All four phases of the special teams unit will return nine of the 11 starting spots from the title game. Perhaps the most unprecedented part of the team’s continuity is the coaching staff. Most championship-winning teams don’t have every coordinator and position coach on both sides of the ball returning for the next season.
The “Run it Back” tour has been the theme of the entire offseason — so now that the roster has more clarity, let’s break down the continuity at each position and evaluate how any vacated snaps can be filled.
Finally, the Chiefs announced their new radio broadcast team for the season.
The Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network and Entercom announced a new broadcast team for the 2020 NFL season on 610 Sports Radio’s “Cody and Gold” Friday morning. Former Chiefs wide receiver and friend-of-the-site Danan Hughes will be on color commentary with 610 Sports Radio’s own Josh Klingler on the sideline.