The Kansas City Chiefs are down to just a couple weeks to finalize a long-term deal for defensive tackle Chris Jones. According to a Friday tweet from NFL Network’s James Palmer, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is the primary reason why both parties remain in a deadlock.
I’m told there hasn’t been much traction at all toward a new contract between the #chiefs and Chris Jones. They do want him back long term, but COVID's played a big part with teams not knowing what the cap will be in 2021. Some clarity from the league before July 15th could help
— James Palmer (@JamesPalmerTV) June 26, 2020
Chiefs Kingdom is well aware that the reigning Super Bowl champions franchise-tagged the 25-year-old early into the offseason. However, the next step, perhaps the most important step, has yet to come to fruition.
CBS Sports contracts expert Joel Corry offered his take on what the final resolution could be, and it’s appears to be most logical conclusion.
My best guess is: (1) Chris Jones plays on a franchise tag this year, (2) Jones gets tagged again next year & (3) Chiefs trade Jones for comparable compensation to what the 49ers got for DeForest Buckner. https://t.co/w9nr8aJNFa
— Joel Corry (@corryjoel) June 25, 2020
Should Corry’s prediction be the truth, then the Mississippi State star will take home $16.1 million for the 2020/21 season.
Not Much Has Happened Since the Last Update
Trust us, we wish we could provide more insight. Unfortunately, this isn’t much of a difference from the most recent update provided in May. Per ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, “not much traction” had been done between Jones’ team and Kansas City’s front office back then, either. While some don’t see an issue playing for $16 million, Fowler mentions that similar athletes in Jones’ position earn much more.
While Chris Jones hasn't signed his franchise tender, he's kept in touch with the Chiefs as they hold virtual meetings, I'm told. Not much traction on contract front but both sides have until July 15. Market for high-end DTs is $20-plus-million per year.
— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) May 28, 2020
If feelings have remained the same for head coach Andy Reid, then he’d like to see the Pro Bowler at Chiefs Kingdom for the foreseeable future.
Here’s what the 62-year-old had to say in May:
“I always look at communication. As long as there’s talk between the parties, I’m good with that. I have full trust in Brett Veach and his crew – (director of football administration) Brandt Tilis and (football operations counsel) Chris Shea. They stay on top of that. Then I think Chris’ representation has done a nice job of keeping it open too.
“We understand, I think in this league, that these bigger deals take a little time. Now Chris has got a time restriction on his, but they do take time. You’ve got to massage through the thing and work it out and talk — and that’s what they’re doing. I’m sure it will all work out in the end.”
Could Frank Clark Be the Reason for the Delay
Defensive end Frank Clark’s arrival to Kansas City certainly benefitted the Chiefs in the end. However, Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer has reason to believe it sealed the Jones’ fate. Check out what he had to say in his Monday Morning Quarterback feature.
There’s an in interesting lesson in the Chiefs’ contract impasse with Chris Jones.
Whenever a team makes a big splash by acquiring a player from somewhere else, there will be ripples coming from within. A year after K.C. traded first- and second-round picks to Seattle for pass-rusher Frank Clark, then signed him to a five-year, $105.5 million contract, you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone in the building that would call the move a mistake. And really, it wasn’t one.
Clark made an immediate impact as the Chiefs’ once-dreadful defense improved, and was one of the best players on the field for the franchise’s first Super Bowl win in a half-century. But even now, the impact of giving Clark what they did, which is what it was always going to take to get him signed (the franchise tag set the bar for comp, and Dallas’s DeMarcus Lawrence set the bar for money), is being felt. Jones wants $21 million per year, or thereabouts, and that figure isn’t something he and his camp pulled out of the sky.
When the Chiefs paid Clark, they set the floor for Jones, who, obviously, could look at what they were giving someone from the outside, and wonder what that should mean for the earning power of someone who’d actually built up some capital inside the building before it was time to actually get paid. And so if you ask me whether or not Jones is going to get a deal by the July 15 deadline for one, I think it boils down to the Chiefs’ willingness to go to $21 million per with Jones, which is a result of their willingness to go there with Clark.
With just a little over two weeks to go, it’s a race against the clock for Kansas City.