Outside of how the Kansas City Chiefs will handle the contract situations of QB Patrick Mahomes and WR Sammy Watkins this offseason, the biggest storyline surrounding the defending Super Bowl champions is the short and long-term future of DT Chris Jones. On February 27, NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport reported that the organization is planning to franchise tag the 25-year-old star and remains interested in working out a new deal in the future.
Jones has been a model of consistency for the Chiefs since being drafted No. 37 overall in 2016. In the four seasons since, the Mississippi State product has racked up 33.0 sacks in 61 games (41 starts) from his interior defensive line spot. Jones’ future in Kansas City has been a point of contention for many – even Jones himself gave a candid, yet understandable reaction during an appearance on Colin Cowherd’s FS1 show “The Herd” on the day of the franchise tag announcement.
On Friday, NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah shared his thoughts on the situation while on the Cody & Gold show on 610 Sports Radio in Kansas City. During the conversation, he outlined a potential compensation package the team could target should they choose to explore a trade scenario involving their Pro Bowl defensive tackle.
“They would be able to get a tremendous haul from him if they decided to make that move,” said Jeremiah. “I don’t think it would be the smart move. He’s someone you can completely build around up front.”
While the former Baltimore Ravens, Cleveland Browns and Philadelphia Eagles scout doesn’t believe moving on from Jones is the best decision in the big picture, Jeremiah’s projected asking price for a player of Jones’ caliber and character is enough to make any front office think critically.
“If ownership comes to you and says, ‘We just can’t afford it. We’ve gotta pay Pat. We need to move on,’ to me I’d want two picks and a player,” Jeremiah explained. “That would be where I would start. If that’s a 1, a 3, and a player or a 1, a 2, and a lesser player, that’d be my aiming point…To me, that’s what I think you’d shoot for to get two ones. I just don’t know if you’d be able to pull that off. I’d say maybe you end up getting a one and a two out of the mix, but it’s a fair question because he’s such a dominant player.”
With the franchise tag, Kansas City will maintain control of Jones for another season, capped at a salary of around $15.5 million. In free agency, the prized defensive lineman would command an even higher price tag. Spotrac lists Jones’ market value at approximately $19.2 million, or the equivalent of five-year, $96 million deal. The tag also gives the Chiefs some flexibility in terms of the future. While a new long-term contract is still very much in play, a tag-and-trade scenario is also alive and well. The Indianapolis Colts have been frequently mentioned as a team that would make sense to explore a trade opportunity, considering they currently possess the second-most salary cap space across the league ($86 million) and an extra second-round draft pick in 2020.
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