Chris Jones is headed back to the Super Bowl with the team that drafted him in the second round in 2016 — the Kansas City Chiefs. But a little more than a year ago — as he played in Super Bowl LIV — that was far from a given.
Jones vividly remembered a moment with fellow defensive lineman Frank Clark that he shared for the first time on Thursday.
“You know it’s crazy... during the game, they have Frank Clark mic’d up, and the Chiefs never put this out,” said Jones. “I looked at Frank around the third quarter. I’m like, ‘Man, this might be our last time playing together.’”
At the time, Jones did not have a contract in place for 2021 — and there had been a good deal of chatter as to whether Kansas City wanted him back on a new deal. 31.0 sacks in three seasons meant that he would deserve quite the pay-raise.
“I didn’t know,” admitted Jones. “I know Pat (Mahomes) had to get his deal done and that was going to take a lot of the salary cap. I didn’t know if the Chiefs were going to be able to bring me back.”
After conversing with Clark in the third quarter, Jones played a critical role in the fourth, helping secure the Chiefs’ title win by batting down three Jimmy Garoppolo passes. Kansas City went on to franchise tag Jones in March before eventually coming to terms on a four-year contract after Mahomes’ deal was in place.
Mahomes quite famously “left some money” on the table for the defensive tackle.
“I’m very fortunate to still be a part of this team, still be with a coach like Andy Reid and [Steve Spagnuolo], I’m very fortunate,” he said. “And I was ready to come back — you know, I didn't want to leave Kansas City. This is the team that believed in me since day one. (Director of college scouting) Ryne Nutt, (general manager) Brett Veach, the Hunt family, (team president) Mr. (Mark) Donovan — they all took a chance on a kid.
“John Dorsey was the GM at that time and I’m just appreciative of those guys — took a chance on a kid from Houston (Mississippi) that went to Mississippi State, and I wanted to stay with this team.”