The newest contract extension in the NFL provides clarity for All-Pro defensive tackle Chris Jones as he awaits a new deal from the Kansas City Chiefs.
On May 4, All-Pro defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence landed a four-year, $90 million contract extension with the New York Giants that will fetch him $60 million in guarantees according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Based on total guarantees, Lawrence is now the third highest-paid interior defensive lineman in the NFL. Just above Lawrence on that list is Washington Commanders’ Daron Payne, who signed a four-year, $90 million extension this offseason which includes $60.02 million in total guarantees according to Over The Cap. Los Angeles Rams’ Aaron Donald sits atop that list with his three-year, $95 million contract that fetches him $65 million in total guarantees.
Those three contracts, along with Tennessee Titans Pro Bowler Jeffery Simmons’ extension this offseason (four years, $94 million with $59.8 million in total guarantees) gives Jones $453 million worth of defensive tackle contracts that will guide him toward his next payday.
Chris Jones Seeking Massive Deal With Chiefs
Among the reasons the Chiefs were cap-strapped this offseason was Chris Jones’ contract. He is in the final year of his four-year, $80 million deal with Kansas City and has a $28.2 million cap hit for the 2023 season according to Over The Cap.
The best way to lower his cap number for at least the 2023 season would be to hand Jones, 28, a contract extension, which would give him yet another payday but would also push his cap hits down the road. Kansas City would eventually have to address those cap hits as it has to this off-season under Jones’ current deal. But an extension would provide cap relief for the team for the next year or two.
According to Nate Taylor of The Athletic on March 2, Jones wants a contract extension that makes him “at least” the second highest-paid player at his position. Based on the aforementioned deals among the top-paid interior defensive linemen, the type of deal Jones is pursuing would net him anywhere between $60-65 million in total guarantees.
In the case of Dexter Lawrence — the Chiefs should feel grateful that he didn’t fetch more money from the Giants. Otherwise, that would have potentially increased Jones’ asking price.
Chris Jones’ Contract Demands Are Justified
Based on the type of season Chris Jones is coming off of, his contract demands are justified.
Jones registered a total of 77 pressures (50 QB hurries, 15 sacks, 12 QB hits), 31 stops, and 2 forced fumbles during the 2022 regular season according to PFF. His 92.3 PFF defensive grade during the regular season was the highest among all interior defenders in the NFL, which snapped Aaron Donald’s eight-year streak of being the highest-graded interior defender in the NFL.
Arguably the best performance of Jones’ seven-year NFL career came during Kansas City’s AFC Championship victory over the Cincinnati Bengals in January. During that game Jones dominated by way of 10 total pressures (5 QB hurries, 3 QB hits, 2 sacks) and 3 stops.
Chiefs Need More Cap Space, Making Extension Necessary
According to Over The Cap’s effective cap space (the cap space a team will have after signing at least 51 players and its projected rookie class to its roster), the Chiefs currently have $1.35 million in cap space.
That cap number doesn’t account for the recent signing of veteran offensive tackle Donovan Smith, who joined Kansas City on a one-year deal worth up to $9 million according to NFL Media’s Tom Pelissero on May 3. The Chiefs also need more financial breathing room for any potential additions they make over the coming months and/or in-season.
So, as mentioned earlier, the easiest way for the defending Super Bowl champions to free up substantial cap room would be to extend Chris Jones.