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Chris Jones wants to be the best defensive tackle — not the highest-paid one

As he returned to the team on Wednesday, Kansas City’s star pass rusher wanted to set the record straight.

AFC Championship - Cincinnati Bengals v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images

It took all of the offseason, training camp and preseason —and even Week 1 of the regular season — for Kansas City Chiefs’ defensive tackle Chris Jones to agree to a re-worked contract that would end his contract holdout. That was announced on Monday. Two days later, he was back with the team as they began preparations for Week 2’s game.

Just like that, Jones moved on from the big contract extension he and his agents were fighting to get. In the end, Jones’ compensation was increased only by the addition of incentives — and he’s still set to hit free agency after this season.

Just the same, the 29-year-old defensive lineman was all positivity and good vibes when he spoke with reporters before practice on Wednesday afternoon.

“I’m super pleased with how it turned out,” Jones noted. “I’m back in the building; I’m excited to be back. [I’m] thankful for the organization — they were able to boost my salary up to make up for the fines — I’m super grateful for that.”

AFC Championship - Cincinnati Bengals v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images

Throughout Jones’ holdout, there was speculation (and reporting) about his motivation. Some believed he wanted to earn as much as defensive tackle Aaron Donald — currently the league’s highest-paid defensive tackle. Others thought Jones was seeking a top-tier guarantee. Either way, the inference was that Jones was aiming for the top of the market in one way or another.

So when San Francisco 49ers’ defensive end Nick Bosa signed a monster extension last week, some believed Jones could use that to push for what he wanted. But Jones was never comparing himself to the 25-year old edge rusher.

“What Nick Bosa got, he deserved,” declared Jones. “That has nothing to do with me. I’m proud of him. [He kept] raising the bar for future defensive linemen to continue [to] raise up in salary. You have to like that — but that didn’t have anything to do with me.”

Bosa does play on the edge, which is a more sought-after position than defensive tackle. But even when you narrow it down to players like himself, Jones claims to be unconcerned about where his contract ranks.

“That’s always a goal,” admitted Jones about having the largest deal. “But important? No. Is it important for me to be the best at my position? Absolutely. I think that’s where my mind is at: being the best — not being the highest-paid.”

While Jones has ended his holdout, that doesn’t eliminate the possibility of an extension being signed during the season. But it doesn’t sound like that is part of his plans.

“That’s a conversation for after the season,” Jones said of an extension. “I wouldn’t want to go back-and-forth during this season. My focus right now is on being the best ‘me’ I can be for this team [and] for this defense; being the best player on this defense [and] being the best player in the league. Anything less than that would be a disappointment.”

Disappointment, of course, is what many felt throughout this process. Head coach Andy Reid didn’t mind publicizing a lack of communication between Jones’ camp and the team. Jones, however, wanted to ease the minds of those who believe his holdout caused a rift between himself and the team.

“I love Veach,” Jones emphasized. “He knows I love him. We had on-and-off conversations throughout it all. Coach Reid? I love him, too. Me and him still call and text.

“We actually have a group text. I retweeted a picture where it said, ‘Chris Jones during the season, then Chris Jones in the offseason’ where I was big with no neck. We had a little joke about that in the midst of this.

“I don’t think our relationship was affected about that. They know how much I love this organization [and] they know how much I love this team. I don’t think it affected any part of our relationship.”

AFC Championship - Tennessee Titans v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images

But the relationship with the fans isn’t as simple — and Jones understands that. After seven years in Chiefs Kingdom, he knows how important he and his teammates are to many fans.

“One thing about the fans in Kansas City: they’re very personable,” Jones acknowledged. “The Chiefs mean everything to them. Some are going to disagree, some are going to agree, some will just respect it. I hope we can come to terms — where I’m back and they can have a little understanding with me. I hope they’re as excited as I am to get back.”

And as of Wednesday afternoon, Jones is back. He was a limited participant in his first practice, gearing up for the team’s Week 2 opponent: the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Now it’s all about football again. Jones clearly believes the long negotiation was just part of the game — something he didn’t take to heart.

“I’m happy to be back,” he reiterated. “The business aspect? You can’t get personal into it. When you get personal, things can turn bad. I never took it personal.”

But while he may have kept personal feelings out of the negotiations, it appears he internalized the messaging from the public during the holdout — and he won’t be forgetting that.

“I did take some of the stuff y’all said about me on Twitter personal,” Jones cautioned. “I just want y’all to know: I keep receipts.”

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