With every new J.J. Watt tweet seems to come more hype surrounding the free agent sweepstakes to acquire the services of the three-time Defensive Player of the Year. While the Kansas City Chiefs have been named as an ideal landing spot in recent weeks, the team isn’t considered among the favorites to land Watt given their salary cap situation.
Despite the longshot odds, Pro Bowl DT Chris Jones was asked on Tuesday about the possibility of playing alongside the former Houston Texans star.
“J.J. Watt has been my favorite player throughout the league my whole career,” Jones said, via Sports Radio 810 WHB. “He was the Aaron Donald before Aaron Donald — he was J.J. Watt, you know? So he’s still my favorite player. Would I love to play with him if the opportunity presents itself? Hell yeah. But you never know how these things go. He’s a free agent for the first time in his career. He might want to play with his brother or something, I don’t know.”
His brother T.J. Watt, of course, plays for the Pittsburgh Steelers, who as of last week had the third-highest odds of signing Watt (+250), trailing only the division-rival Cleveland Browns (+150), according to SportsLine.
While Tuesday’s commentary wasn’t necessarily a direct pitch to Watt to join forces in Kansas City, Chiefs Kingdom has seen Jones work his recruiting magic before, most recently with Le’Veon Bell last October.
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Chiefs Face Salary Cap Restraints in Pursuing Star Players
While the idea of adding more star power in the form of CB Patrick Peterson or WR Kenny Golladay to an already starstruck roster is fun to daydream about, Kansas City still has some work to do in-house before it can even consider dishing out free agent deals.
Aside from its current standing of being $17.4 million over a projected $185 million team cap for 2021, according to Spotrac, the Chiefs will need to evaluate whether to re-sign 24 impending free agents of their own. Among the most notable names will be some notable names along the defensive line, including DE Alex Okafor, DE Tanoh Kpassagnon, DE Taco Charlton and DT Mike Pennel.
At first glance, that would suggest an upgrade could be needed opposite DE Frank Clark, however, the team has a couple of young defensive ends with some upside — Mike Danna and Tim Ward — that they might prefer to see play out. Re-signing Kpassagnon and/or Charlton as depth options or addressing the position in April’s draft are more budget-friendly alternatives to paying someone like Watt upwards of $10 million annually, which he has earned every season since 2015.
Jones Launches New Foundation for Underserved Youth
Watt chatter aside, the real reason behind Jones’ media appearance on Tuesday was the reveal of his new Sack Nation Foundation, which seeks to improve the health and well-being of young people in underserved communities.
“Kansas City embraced me like family,” Jones said, via Arrowhead Pride. “You know — a kid from Houston, Mississippi, who had three sacks…it’s not much to embrace right there, but Kansas City embraced me like family. They welcomed me with open arms. They took a chance on me, man. They took a chance. This city took a chance on me, and I’m just trying to make the best of it. It’s always been my goal to give back. It’s always been a part of me to give back, and they put me in a position to reach the opportunity to give back to others, and I’m just trying to fulfill that.”
The foundation’s first donation was presented to the YMCA of Greater Kansas City to provide flag football opportunities for 300 local children and their siblings. Jones plans to host more grassroots events in the future, including in Kansas City and his hometown in Mississippi.
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Chris Licata is an NFL contributor covering the Kansas City Chiefs from enemy territory in Denver, Colorado. Follow him on Twitter @Chris__Licata or join the Heavy on Chiefs Facebook community for the latest out of Chiefs Kingdom!