With the franchise tag deadline looming, the Chris Jones situation is getting more and more tricky. He recently jumped on Twitter to insinuate that he would sit out the 2020 season if he wasn’t signed to a long term deal and mentioned Le’Veon Bell’s influence in his decision making process.
As worrying as this whole saga is, you can’t blame Jones for being adamant on his worth.
Since being drafted back in 2016 Jones has done more than enough to deserve a big pay cheque. Out of all of the active players in the league, his disruptive presence in the trenches is bested only by Aaron Donald. He wreaks havoc and creates pressure on nearly every single snap that he’s on the field. Even if his run defence is looked at as a weakness, his pass rushing ability and instinctive nature more than make up for it.
If you don’t believe me just look at the difference between the games Jones played in and those he didn’t in 2019. It’s undeniable that his presence on the field takes the Chiefs defence to another level.
So why are Kansas City so hesitant to put pen to paper and extend him long term? The simple answer is that there are other needs to be addressed. Patrick Mahomes is obviously going to be priority number one as his back-to-back MVP and Super Bowl seasons have propelled him into becoming the best player at the league’s most important position. With his huge contract quickly approaching, it might be hard for Veach to justify taking up another large chunk of cap space for just one player.
It’s important to note that Jones said he was looking for $20m/year on his new contract. The cap space we would save by tag and trading Jones would provide the team with plenty of flexibility to build around Mahomes, who is undoubtedly the future of the franchise.
Now I’ve been a fan of Chris Jones since he entered the league, but I don’t think his departure would be the end of the world for Kansas City. The Chiefs are in a great position to put together a dynasty much like the 20 year reign of terror that the Patriots have had. Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid are set to be the new great QB / head coach partnership after Tom Brady and Bill Belichick parted ways this off season. However for that to happen, something has to give.
After the 2015 season the Patriots traded Chandler Jones to the Cardinals for a second round pick. He went on to have two pro-bowl and first team all-pro seasons and totalled 210 tackles, 60 sacks, and 17 forced fumbles over the next four years. On the other hand, the Patriots went on to appear in three Super Bowls, winning two of them.
History shows that well-run organisations can still win without retaining superstar talent on defence which is why I don’t think losing Jones would be the end of the road for the franchise’s dynasty hopes.
Don’t get me wrong, I really hope the Chiefs find a way to make it work with number 95. He’s a formidable player and a great guy who would be sorely missed in the locker room. But he needs to do what he thinks is best for him and his family. If he wants to prioritise financial security over the prospect of continued success with Kansas City, then I wish him all the best.
He deserves the money, and the Chiefs are in a position to carry on winning. Although having him on the team would make the chances of running it back a whole lot greater, we still have the potential to be one of the best teams in the league without him.
Regardless of where he ends up by the end of the off season, I will always be a fan of Chris Jones.