For their MVP passer, it’s a matter of when, not if, Mahomes gets his pay raise, all but certainly making him the next highest-paid NFL player. For Jones, the future in Kansas City isn’t quite as clear. Back on March 16, the Chiefs placed the non-exclusive franchise tag on their Pro Bowl defensive lineman, allowing him to negotiate with other teams, who could make contract offers, but giving Kansas City the right to match any offer sheet or acquire two first-round picks should they decline.
Jones’ tag carries a $16.1 million salary for the 2020 season, approximately 7.3 percent of the team’s entire salary cap and the fourth-highest cap hit on the Chiefs roster this year, trailing only DE Frank Clark ($19.3M), WR Tyreek Hill ($17.7M) and S Tyrann Mathieu ($16.3M).
Chiefs Strike Out on Team-Friendly Deal, Despite Limited Cap Space
While a tag-and-trade scenario was always in play for Jones, both sides have been on the record with interest in reaching a long-term solution to keep Jones in a Chiefs uniform. However, as one of the league’s most dominant interior disruptors since 2016, the 25-year-old star has held firm in his desire to be compensated as such.
In an AFC West roundup story posted on The Athletic earlier this week, it was revealed that Kansas City had hoped to come to terms on a financially friendly contract with Jones prior to last month’s NFL Draft, to no avail.
The Chiefs’ roster is just about set for the upcoming season. The two tasks left for owner Clark Hunt and Veach are to sign superstar quarterback Patrick Mahomes and star defensive tackle Chris Jones to contract extensions. Mahomes is expected to sign the most lucrative contract in the league’s history, but how the deal will be structured will impact the Chiefs’ salary cap for future years. Jones, the Chiefs’ franchise-tagged player, wants to be one of the highest-paid defensive players in the league. But before the draft, the Chiefs were hopeful Jones would agree to compromise on a somewhat team-friendly deal.
As of April 3, the Chiefs had yet to make an official contract offer to Jones, according to NFL Network reporter Tom Pelissero.
The defending Super Bowl champions have operated very strategically this offseason, primarily focusing on their own free agents and retaining 20 of their 22 starters from 2019. Outside additions have been minimal, but Kansas City still remains tight up against the cap with approximately $5.0 million in spending power, per Over The Cap.
Chiefs GM Gives Updated Timeline on Negotiations
On April 16, one week prior to the first round of the NFL Draft, general manager Brett Veach addressed the media on the state of the team. Among the insight provided was an update on negotiations with Jones, which Veach confirmed are ongoing.
More from the Chiefs’ chief football executive, per Arrowhead Pride:
“We’ve had a lot of discussion with Chris and the Katz brothers (Jones’ agents), and we continue to have that,” Veach explained. “We’ve got a lot of time, certainly these are — it’s a unique environment in which we’re working with, and we were able to kind of navigate the free agency period and retain some guys. We’re going to work through the draft and we’re going to continue dialogue. But we know how talented Chris is, and I think the franchise tag speaks for it, and we also have a lot of time.”
And while this NFL offseason will look a little bit different due to COVID-19 restrictions, the time frame to work out a deal remains unaffected, and Veach and company know that time is still on their side entering the middle of May.
“I think the deadline to get a deal done is July 15, so there’s a lot of time to continue the dialogue and to work on something with Chris. We certainly are going to work to maintain him not just for next year, but for the future.”
For more NFL updates, follow Chris Licata on Twitter: @Chris__Licata