Kansas City Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones did not appear at any of the three open sessions during voluntary organized team activities (OTAs) — or for Days 1 and 2 of this week’s mandatory minicamp.
Considering that Jones is entering the final year of his four-year contract with the team — and he has a strong argument that he should be paid a top-of-the-market salary for his services — this shouldn’t be surprising. Jones also skipped mandatory minicamp in 2019 during that year’s contract negotiations.
“That’s his choice,” said head coach Andy Reid on Thursday. “He chose not to be here — but I’m sure he’ll be at training camp.”
Reid then clarified what he was saying: the team hopes he will be there.
“I’m not sure about any of that — I’m not sure I’m going to be there,” smiled Reid. “I wish I could predict it. I think he’s... there’s a chance, [there’s a] chance he’s not. We’ll see.”
Unlike his days in Philadelphia — which are now a decade ago — Reid tries his best not to get involved in contract negotiations. He now prefers to leave all of it to Kansas City’s general manager Brett Veach and his personnel staff.
“I don’t even deal with it,” he said. “I let Brett and his group deal with it. If you’re there, you’re there — and if you’re not, we keep going. It’s one of those deals. They’ll work all that out. They’re communicating, so that’s important.”
Quarterback Patrick Mahomes also understands Jones’ decision — and wanted to make it clear that Jones’ teammates are looking forward to his return.
“It’s part of the business,” said Mahomes. “Chris knows that we love him here. He’s been a part of this team for a long time. He’s one of the main reasons that we’ve had the success that we’ve had; he’s been that leader on the defense. He’s made a lot of big plays in what seem like the biggest moments. And you want those guys on your team.
“It’s the offseason. Even though you’re getting better, I’m sure Chris is working, and he knows the defense that he needs to do. The hope is everything’s good by training camp, and we’re able to come in and just roll.
“That’s just part of it — and that’s what makes this team so great: whenever guys like that have to go handle their business, we let them handle it. When they jump back in the building, we get back right where we left off.”
For Jones, “picking up where he left off” means following the initial first-team All-Pro nod of his career (he was named to the second team three times) and tying his career-high with 15.5 sacks.
But All-Pro or not, Reid still has the same message that he had for Jones when he skipped the entire offseason four years ago.
“Make sure you’re in shape,” declared the head coach.