The Kansas City Chiefs have until July 15 — that’s a week from this coming Wednesday — to sign a long term deal with their star defensive tackle Chris Jones. If they can’t, Jones will play on the franchise tag in 2020 — or choose to sit out.
We thought it would be helpful to recap all the reporting we’ve done on the twists and turns on this story over the last year and a half
December 1, 2018
In a late-July session with reporters at Kansas City Chiefs training camp in St. Joseph, Missouri, our Pete Sweeney asked Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones if he had a number of sacks in mind for a season goal.
We ask these kinds of questions all the time. We expect to get answers like, “I’d just like to keep improving my game,” or “I’m not interested in statistics. I’m only interested in helping my team win.”
Those are good answers, of course. But Jones wasn’t fooling around with that.
“Lead the NFL,” he told Pete and the other reporters present — many of whom then filed stories about Jones’ goal.
Four months later — and after nine starts in 11 games — Jones has 9.0 sacks. He’s had at least one in each of the last seven games, and two in each of the last two. He’s tied with teammate Dee Ford and Denver Broncos linebacker Bradley Chubb in seventh place, with ten other players between them and Aaron Donald — who leads the NFL with 14.5.
January 20, 2019
Appearing on NFL Network’s Good Morning Football Weekend on Sunday morning, Ian Rapoport said that the Kansas City Chiefs have three priorities in offseason contract situations: wide receiver Tyreek Hill, defensive lineman Chris Jones and linebacker Dee Ford.
Rapoport said that the Chiefs will seek to extend the rookie contracts of Hill and Jones, and that putting the franchise tag on Dee Ford is “on the table.”
From @gmfb Weekend: Among the #Chiefs key offseason priorities are locking up star WR Tyreek Hill and DE Chris Jones... Meanwhile, the franchise tag is very much on the table for pass-rusher Dee Ford. pic.twitter.com/hm0j0PlS7k— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) January 20, 2019
March 6, 2019
Yep. Just your regular Wednesd—HOLD UP is that Chris Jones AND Le’Veon Bell!!!?— Arrowhead Pride (@ArrowheadPride) March 6, 2019
(via @stonecoldjones_) pic.twitter.com/A1uuVRqTXW
April 2, 2019
In a recent post to his YouTube channel, 610 Sports Radio host Carrington Harrison spoke with J.I. Halsell — a former agent for Priority Sports and a salary cap analyst for the Washington Redskins — about the contract situation with Kansas City Chiefs defensive lineman Chris Jones.
As others have done, Halsell said that the precedent for a potential extension of Jones’ contract would be the 2016 contract given to Philadelphia Eagles 4-3 defensive lineman Fletcher Cox, which was reported to be a six-year, $102.6 million deal.
”It could be in the Fletcher Cox neighborhood: $17.1 million per year,” said Halsell. “I think that’s kind of his floor, if you were to ask me. You can also make the argument, though, that Cox’s deal was in 2016. With the increase in the salary cap to 2019, that Cox deal — when you adjust it for the increase in the cap — is nearly $21 million per year. So I don’t know if Chris Jones gets to $20 million per year, but the floor is probably going to be $17 million a year.”
Halsell said he believed that Jones and the Chiefs may reach an agreement before the 2019 season begins.
”If it’s something that is excess of Fletcher Cox, that’s a lot of money to turn down and pass up,” he explained. “And given all the other needs the Chiefs have to take care of from a contract and cap management standpoint, I think there’s a significant chance Chris Jones gets a deal done before the start of the 2019 season.”
April 23, 2019
The Kansas City Chiefs and Seattle Seahawks have agreed to a trade that will send defensive end Frank Clark to Kansas City.
Sources: The #Seahawks and #Chiefs are deep in talks on a trade to send star Frank Clark to KC. The compensation would include a 1st rounder, a 2020 2nd rounder and a swap of mid-rounders. To complete it, the franchise tagged player and Chiefs must hammer out a deal.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) April 23, 2019
Moments later, ESPN’s Adam Schefter confirmed the two teams had come to a deal.
Schefter continues on with the contract details.
Chiefs and Frank Clark reached agreement on a 5 yrs, $105.5 million contract - greater total than DeMarcus Lawrence, with $63.5 million guaranteed, per source.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) April 23, 2019
Clark will receive a five-year $105.5 million contract, which makes him the third-richest defensive player in the NFL.
May 21, 2019
Kansas City Chiefs defensive lineman Chris Jones has not reported for the start of offseason training activities (OTAs), according to friend-of-the-site Terez Paylor of Yahoo! Sports.
As expected, Chiefs DT Chris Jones has not reported for the start of OTAs this week, per a source.— Terez A. Paylor (@TerezPaylor) May 21, 2019
As I alluded to in our OTAs primer posted Tuesday morning, this is no surprise. Paylor reported back on May 1 that Jones had been absent since offseason workouts began on April 15.
June 11, 2019
The Kansas City Chiefs won’t negotiate a contract with defensive lineman Chris Jones until he returns to the team, according to a new report from NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. Jones was not at mandatory minicamp Tuesday and has not been present at any offseason workouts since the offseason program began on April 15.
The difference now is the workouts are mandatory and those absent are subject to a fine.
RAPOPORT: “He has stayed away for OTAs — that’s voluntary — no fines associated with that, but not present, I’m told, for mandatory minicamp, so Chris Jones, one of the best players on a Chiefs defense that they would really like to improve this year, he is not at mandatory minicamp, so he is going to get fined. He would like a new deal — looking for something in the $20 million per year range but my understanding is the Chiefs are not going to negotiate with him until he’s present, and he is not present right now.”
July 15, 2019
According to friend-of-the-site Terez Paylor of Yahoo! Sports, there has been no change in the status of negotiations between the Kansas City Chiefs and defensive tackle Chris Jones, who has one year remaining on his rookie contract.
There has been no change in the Chris Jones situation in recent weeks, a source tells me. That could always change, but he does still have to report to camp by Aug. 6 to receive an accrued season toward free agency.— Terez A. Paylor (@TerezPaylor) July 15, 2019
July 23, 2019
Reid didn’t even wait for a question about the status of contract negotiations with the star defensive tackle.
Instead, he brought it up in his opening statement.
“And then, Chris Jones — [Chiefs public relations director] Ted [Crews] has given me the ‘hot topics’ here — so Chris Jones would be the other topic of interest, I’m sure,” Reid said as reporters chuckled over his “hot topic” list. “People have talked with Chris’ people, and there’s been communication there. We’ll just see whether he’s here or not here. We obviously want him here — I think he probably wants to be here, too. We’ll see how all of that works out.”
Reid was then pressed for more details.
“I’ve said this before — that if you miss days, you miss days. It’s just a unique situation — you know — we’ve had a change in defense and so on, so it’s probably beneficial to be here.”
July 26, 2019
According to multiple reports from NFL insiders, including ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Kansas City Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones will join other the other veteran players reporting to Chiefs training camp at Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph, Missouri on Friday.
1/2 Despite not having a new deal, Chiefs’ DT Chris Jones is not holding out and is reporting to camp on time today, per the Katz brothers that represent him. More....— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) July 26, 2019
Per the Katz. brothers regarding Chris Jones, who is now reporting to camp on time: “He knows his value and if he has to play out his deal in order to reach free agency, then that’s what he will do. For now, he’s focused on winning a Super Bowl for Kansas City.”— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) July 26, 2019
UPDATE: While Chris Jones has arrived in St. Joseph, the two sides remain separated by a large margin, per NFL Network’s Jeff Chadiha.
@chiefs team source says there is big gap between team and @stonecoldjones_ on new deal. Team wants something closer to the 4-yr/$68m/$42 m guaranteed @AtlantaFalcons gave @GradyJarrett. Jones wants to be closer to deal Frank Clark just got (5yr/$104m/$63m guaranteed).— Jeffri Chadiha (@jeffrichadiha) July 26, 2019
November 4, 2019
After missing three games with a groin injury, Kansas City Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones was back in the lineup on Sunday for the team’s big 26-23 win over the Minnesota Vikings at Arrowhead Stadium.
And Jones was a game-wrecker in his return.
As I noted on Sunday night, even though Jones didn’t put up big numbers in the game (three tackles — two solo, one for loss — one sack and two quarterback hits), he was directly involved in no fewer than four third-down stops that forced Vikings punts. That’s huge.
“With him back, it does a lot for our defense and opposing offensive lines,” said fellow defensive tackle Derrick Nnadi. “He is, honestly, a downhill player. It is great to have him back on the inside. From D-end to D-tackle — either way — I am glad to have my dog back.”
“It’s good to get him back in there,” remarked Chiefs head coach Andy Reid. “As long as this goes, the more we will be able to get guys back in. We’ll just add them to the mix to get a little more depth. It’s good experience that these guys have gotten. It will help us down the road here.”
January 13. 2020
Kansas City Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones popped up on the team’s injury report with a calf injury last Thursday, missed practice Friday and was then ruled out prior to Sunday’s Divisional round game against the Houston Texans.
When Chiefs had coach Andy Reid spoke to the media on Monday, he was unsure of Jones’ status headed into the AFC title game coming up this Sunday.
“I don’t know that right now,” said Reid. “We’ll just have to see how he does. This is a day-to-day thing, and it was that way after it happened the other day. We’ll see how he does.”
Here is a video of Jones’ testing the injury out prior to the game, courtesy of News Press Now’s Brandon Zenner.
“He was struggling,” said Reid. “He couldn’t push off and go, so it was an easy decision right there.”
January 19, 2020
Defensive tackle Chris Jones will play against the Titans.
Jones — who tweaked his calf in practice a week ago Thursday — was listed as questionable in the team’s final injury report on Friday. He missed last week’s Divisional round game against the Houston Texans.
Jones — whose presence in the lineup is considered by some as critical for the Chiefs’ ability to control Titans running back Derrick Henry — will likely be on a limited snap cont for the game. He played 84% of the defensive snaps — mostly at defensive end — against the Titans in their Week 10 game. Henry gained 188 yards in that contest.
February 21, 2020
Kansas City Chiefs general manager Brett Veach joined old friend BJ Kissel on the Chiefs dot com “In the Trenches” podcast on Friday.
“Chris is obviously a great player and he’s a priority,” Veach told Kissel. “We have a lot of priorities and we know how hard it is to win a Super Bowl — hadn’t done it in 50 years, and we won it with the group we had last year. So I think that as we attack this offseason and first up, it’s free agency before the draft, our goal and our mindset is to do whatever we can to retain as many players as we can, and Chris is at the top of that list because of the talent he is. We have a lot of tough decisions to make, but our goal and our intent is to retain as much of this team and keep intact as much of this team as possible.”
February 25, 2020
“It’s certainly a priority for us,” reaffirmed Veach. “Sometimes, these things take some time to work through... The franchise tag is something that we have the ability to use. We’d certainly like to see if we could work something out with him, and I think the tandem of Chris Jones and Frank Clark is something that any team would want, and we’re going work hard to see if we can get that done.”
If it was up to Clark, Jones’ compensation would look at least somewhat similar to his own.
But Clark doesn’t draw up the contracts. The man who does sounded optimistic that something could be worked out in order to afford both players under the cap.
“Going back to my personnel staff, I also have a great cap staff — Brandt Tillis and Chris Shea do a tremendous job,” said Veach. “It’s challenging, but it doesn’t mean it’s impossible. And I think just working through the breakdowns and the dispersals and looking forward — a lot of this, we have to wait with the new CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement) and see how that looks. It’s always a challenge, but I think when you have guys as talented as Chris and these other players, you’re going to turn over every scenario and just see what exactly can be done. So it’s a challenge, but it’s not impossible.”
February 27, 2020
The Kansas City Chiefs will indeed franchise tag defensive tackle Chris Jones, per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.
The #Chiefs are going to franchise tag star DL Chris Jones, sources say. Not a surprise, but Kansas City views him in their long-term plans and hopes to get a deal done at some point. The window opens officially today.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) February 27, 2020
This has always been the expected outcome for Jones — whether he signs a new contract with the Chiefs, plays for a season on the franchise tag or has his rights traded and works out a deal with a new team.
February 27, 2020
Jones himself appeared on Fox Sports’ “The Herd” on Thursday. And host Colin Cowherd did his best to get a controversial sound bite out of Jones, asking him how he felt about being franchise-tagged.
”I’m mixed emotions,” Jones replied. “I feel a little bit like, uh... [he paused for a moment]. Every team in this league has the opportunity to franchise a good player.”
”You’re more than a good player,” Cowherd interjected.
”I’m the lucky guy.” concluded Jones — with a fair measure of irony.
Cowherd thought that was very funny. Then he said that if he were in the same position, his reaction to management would be more like, “What? I thought you liked me.”
“There’s no hard feelings,” Jones said. “It’s the business.”
”But there’s a little hard.” said Cowherd.
”It’s a little hard,” agreed Jones. ”It’s like, ‘What else y’all want me to do? I’ve got to go ahead and get 30 sacks — 35 sacks — to show y’all I can?’
”But the beautiful thing about the franchise tag [is] that it can go one of two ways,” added Jones. “The team can either long-term you to have you for the future, or they can trade you. Either way, I’ll get paid benefits.
”I would be nice to stay in Kansas City and stay with Mahomes,” he said. “What we’re building is exceptional. I feel like we’re building a dynasty. For Brett Veach, it’s about looking at the team, analyzing what you can lose — and what you have to keep.”
While it’s understandable that Jones could feel hurt in the situation — it hard to imagine being in his position without feeling some of that — his responses to Cowherd also clearly show he understands that it’s not all about him.
Even before this exchange in the interview, Jones had said that he had a choice about how to look at the situation.
“It’s like a mix of emotions,” he told Cowherd, “because you figure [that] after four years, [doing] everything the right way — within the team way — you try to stay under the line, out of trouble, and be a good citizen for the team and for the city. [Then] you expect to be rewarded. So when you’re hit with a franchise tag, it can go different ways. You can feel like they’re not valuing you — that they’re not valuing what you can bring to the table. Or you can look at it as giving them time to get their horses in a cage and get something together.”
June 15, 2020
On Thursday, we shared a report from ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler saying that while there has been “no traction” in talks between the Kansas City Chiefs and their star defensive tackle Chris Jones, Jones has “kept in touch” as the team conducts its virtual offseason.
Other outlets — some of them national — also amplified Fowler’s account. But on Friday, a new report from NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport tells an entirely different story.
More info on the #Chiefs & DT Chris Jones: The reason “not much traction” has been made on contract talks is because no negotiations or discussions have occurred since the tag. Jones has not participated and will continue to not participate in any OTAs — virtual or otherwise. https://t.co/vAz1uwBj7E— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) May 29, 2020
Rapoport — one of the more-reliable sources of behind-the-scenes NFL information — is pulling no punches. He is maintaining that Jones and the Chiefs aren’t talking at all — and that they haven’t been talking since March 16, when the Chiefs officially placed the franchise tag on Jones.
In addition, Rapoport says that Jones has not been participating in any part of the offseason program. This part rings true, because Jones has not yet signed the franchise tag. Until he does, he is under no contractual obligation to participate in any team activities.
June 26, 2020
The Kansas City Chiefs do indeed want defensive tackle Chris Jones back long-term, though there still “hasn’t been much traction at all” toward a new deal, according to NFL Network’s James Palmer in a tweet Friday.
I’m told there hasn’t been much traction at all toward a new contract between the #chiefs and Chris Jones. They do want him back long term, but COVID's played a big part with teams not knowing what the cap will be in 2021. Some clarity from the league before July 15th could help— James Palmer (@JamesPalmerTV) June 26, 2020
Chris Jones suggests he “won’t play” in 2020 without new long-term contract after seeing NFL Network report
June 30, 2020
NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo made as straightforward as a statement we have seen regarding defensive tackle Chris Jones and his contract situation on Tuesday during “NFL Total Access.”
From @NFLTotalAccess, answering the question of which guy deserves to get a contract extension, I went with #Chiefs DL Chris Jones, though with the team not making an offer at $20m per season or more, I don't think he bites before the deadline to do a deal. pic.twitter.com/tygcsLCXer— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) July 1, 2020
GARAFOLO: “[Chris Jones] always viewed himself as a $20 million-plus-per-year guy. The Chiefs frankly never did even before the whole COVID situation, never made an offer north of $20 million. [They] felt like they could get him somewhere below that. A lot of work to be done here if there is going to be a long-term deal for Chris Jones, who was disruptive throughout the regular season and then in the postseason as well — had a pressure in the Super Bowl that led to an interception. This is a guy that has put up the production the last couple years to deserve a long-term deal. Not quite sure it’s going to happen, though.”
Jones, upon seeing the story, tweeted from his official account.