One of the easiest ways for the Kansas City Chiefs to free up cap space this offseason is to give a contract extension to defensive tackle Chris Jones, who has one year remaining on his four-year, $80 million deal with the Chiefs.
Though he could command a contract that makes him the highest-paid interior defensive lineman in the NFL, Jones appears to be willing to work with Kansas City to lock him up long-term without putting the organization in cap purgatory based on his recent tweets.
After tweeting “I’m grateful” on March 12, a Twitter user asked Jones, “extension announcement soon?? you have to retire a chief.” Jones responded to the user’s question by writing, “I’m a chief for life. I will not play for another franchise.”
It’s unknown whether the series of tweets by Jones was alluding to him having already come to terms on an extension with the defending Super Bowl champions. But he has made one thing clear: He wants to play for the Chiefs and only the Chiefs during his NFL career.
Chris Jones Has Made Contract Demands Clear
Chris Jones may be willing to work with the Chiefs in order to get a contract extension done this offseason. But he won’t be taking a severe discount to make that happen.
According to Nate Taylor of The Athletic on March 2, Jones wants a contract extension that makes him “at least the second-highest player at his position.”
The highest-paid interior defender in the NFL is Aaron Donald of the Los Angeles Rams, who was given a three-year, $95 million extension during the 2022 offseason. That puts his contract at an average annual value (AAV) of $31.6 million, according to Over The Cap. Second on the list for interior defender contracts are Leonard Williams of the New York Giants (three years, $63 million) and DeForest Buckner of the Indianapolis Colts‘ (four years, $84 million), who both have an AAV of $21 million.
Chris Jones Has Second-Largest Cap Hit on Chiefs
As it stands, Jones would have a base salary of $19.5 million for the 2023 season and would get roughly $8.7 million in bonuses, per Over The Cap. The largest problem with the final year of his contract is his $28 million cap hit, which is the second-largest cap hit among Chiefs players next season only behind quarterback Patrick Mahomes ($49.2 million). Edge rusher Frank Clark was second on that list prior to being released on March 7.
Based on the AAV of the top-paid interior defenders in the NFL, Jones is looking for an extension that pays him at least $22 million per year. And based on how he played during the 2022 season, he has earned the right to demand that kind of money.
During the 2022 regular season, Jones registered a total of 77 pressures (50 QB hurries, 15 sacks, 12 QB hits), 31 stops, and 2 forced fumbles, according to PFF. His 92.3 defensive grade during the regular season was the highest among all interior defenders in the NFL, even ahead of Aaron Donald, who was PFF’s highest-graded interior defender for eight straight seasons prior to 2022.
Arguably the best performance of Jones’ career came during Kansas City’s AFC Championship victory over the Cincinnati Bengals in January. During that game Jones was a force to be reckoned with, registering 10 total pressures (5 QB hurries, 3 QB hits, 2 sacks) and 3 stops.