Kansas City Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones is poised to make his season debut Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars. But his offseason also promises to be intriguing.
Kansas City’s revised agreement with Jones that was reached Monday did not include a provision that prevents the Chiefs from using their franchise tag on the All-Pro defensive tackle, sources said. But the Chiefs’ 2024 salary cap situation is expected to prevent them from tagging Jones anyway.
If the Chiefs were to tag Jones after the season, the price tag would be expected to be about $32 million. Kansas City also is projected to be right at the salary cap when the new league year starts in 2024, so it would be incredibly challenging, if not impossible, to clear out the corresponding room to tag Jones, based on a review of their contractual obligations. The Chiefs would have to release or restructure the contracts of too many players to be able to tag Jones.
Therefore, even if they could tag Jones, they are not expected to do so, creating a situation in which the star defensive tackle is almost assured of becoming an unrestricted free agent in 2024, if he so chooses.
Aside from this summer’s holdout, the Chiefs and Jones have enjoyed a strong relationship, and a return to Kansas City should not be ruled out. Jones is said to genuinely want to stay in Kansas City, and the team, according to a source, “still loves him” despite the bumpy summer.
The Chiefs know that getting Jones back for Sunday’s game in Jacksonville, and the rest of the season, was important for their defense and long-term chances.
“Chris and I have talked,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid told reporters this week. “There wasn’t any personal thing going on there between us. It was just he made a business decision, that’s part of this thing. I’m old, so I’ve been through a lot of those, and those things happen. I’m able to separate it. I think he separated it. He’s back in and has a good attitude, ready to go.”
The Chiefs are expected to use Jones on passing downs and important defensive plays. He could play anywhere from 20 to 30 plays against the Jaguars, depending on how he feels, a league source said.
Kansas City added the following incentives to Jones’ one-year contract: He earns $1 million for participating in 35% of the defensive snaps and an additional $1 million for participating in 50% of snaps. He gets $1.25 million for reaching 10 sacks and an additional $500,000 if he gets 15 sacks.
Furthermore, Jones would receive $1 million if he is named a first-team All-Pro and if the Chiefs make it to the Super Bowl. He earns an additional $2 million if he is named Defensive Player of the Year and the Chiefs win the Super Bowl. All in all, Jones could earn a maximum of $6.75 million in incentives.