Negotiations between the Kansas City Chiefs and defensive tackle Chris Jones remain ongoing — with Jones not in the building or on the practice field Sunday as the team prepared for its Week 1 matchup, set for Thursday night against the Detroit Lions.
Asked about Jones’ absence on Sunday impacts his availability on Thursday night, head coach Andy Reid spoke like a man without any definitive answers.
“I can’t tell you that; I don’t know,” said Reid. “I don’t know what his agenda is with when he’s coming or not coming. We’re rolling right now. I haven’t put much thought into that part of it.”
Thinking back to mandatory minicamp — when Jones’ holdout began — Reid said he never tried to predict how the situation would ultimately play out. The head coach understood that there were a lot of factors involved.
“You’re never sure how it’s going to work out,” said Reid. “You’re dealing with too many people on this type of thing. So, this can go either direction. Again, I don’t spend a lot of time on it. I had 90 guys in the offseason. We need to make sure we’re going in the right direction. And then now we’re getting ready to play a game. You’re either here or not here. That’s how I go about it.”
The running tab: Chris Jones racked up roughly $2 million in fines during his training camp holdout. He also gave up a $500,000 workout bonus. He would forfeit an additional $1,083,333 for each regular-season game missed. https://t.co/W9QLcAbOTm— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) September 3, 2023
With the game only four days away, quarterback Patrick Mahomes explained that the players who are actually at practice have just moved on.
“At this point, you just prepare to play the game with the guys that are in the building and let the front office and stuff handle that,” said Mahomes. “We got a tough task with the Detroit Lions, and we’re going to try to focus on how we can win with the guys that are here.”
Several players in the locker room said they are looking at it as if Jones became unavailable due to injury.
“It’s the same thing if a guy got hurt in the middle of the season,” said safety Justin Reid. “The situation is what it is with it. Chris is one of the best players in the NFL, but at the end of the day, we’re going to have to roll with the guys that we got. If I were to go down, or Nick [Bolton] were to go down, or even Patrick Mahomes were to go down, there’s somebody that has to step up and go play their best football, and we have to find a way to get a win.”
Thursday night’s defensive tackle group is expected to include veterans Derrick Nnadi and Turk Wharton — as well as second-year newcomer Neil Farrell and rookie Keondre Coburn.
“During training camp, we were able to get young guys reps, get a lot of people a chance to play,” said Bolton. “That kind of helps us out a lot. In terms of guys we have here, man, I think we just got excited for this opportunity. A lot of guys that don’t really get that much playing time with Chris being here are going to get the opportunity. I know they’re excited for it, I’m happy for them. When Chris gets here, we’re going to love on him. We can’t wait for him to be here. But the guys we got are the guys we got. We’re going to go out there and try to dominate Week 1.”
Defensive end George Karlaftis could miss Jones the most, considering that without him around, he instantly becomes the club’s most important pass rusher. The one-on-one matchups he sees due to the attention Jones draws may not be there on Thursday night.
“I don’t know,” said Karlaftis. “Whatever they decide to do, I’m going to have to deal with it. That’s the bottom line. That’s how our whole team faces the season-opener. Ready for just about everything.”
Before the end of the media session, Reid was pressed for more information.
“I’m not trying to be a lawyer, but I don’t really want to talk about it, about my thing with him or anything else,” he said. “(Chiefs general manager) [Brett] Veach has had communication there with his agent. That’s the important thing right now.”