The Kansas City Chiefs are wasting no time in securing Chris Jones for at least the 2020 season. The reining Super Bowl champions are going to place the franchise tag on their star defensive lineman, according to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network. The window for using the franchise tag opens on Thursday.
Rapoport adds that Kansas City views Jones in its long-term plans and hopes that the franchise tag really serves as a placeholder for a bigger, more stable deal to get done at some point.
it seemed unlikely that the Chiefs were going to let Jones, who was looked at as arguably the top non-quarterback hitting the market this offseason, have the chance to speak with other teams. The 25-year-old has been an absolute force since they took him in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft out of Mississippi State, and his dominance was on full display this past season.
One could make that case that he should have been Super Bowl LIV MVP after his strong display against the 49ers offense. In that 31-20 comeback win, Jones terrorized Niners quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo as he batted away three passes and constantly applied pressure along the offensive line. Jones has a much bigger body of work outside of that Super Bowl performance, however, as Pro Football Focus notes he registered 58 total pressures in 2019, the fourth-most among interior defenders. He also has 31 sacks in the previous three seasons.
With Jones now, at the very least, locked in for 2020, the Chiefs have the much more difficult task of hammering out a long-term deal. According to Spotrac's projections, Jones would have seen something in the range of a five-year, $96.4 million deal on the open market. Now, it's up to Kansas City to get somewhere in that ballpark. General manager Brett Veach noted at the NFL scouting combine on Tuesday that re-signing Jones is "certainly a priority for us."
"We'd certainly would like to see if we can work something out with him, and I think the tandem of Chris Jones and Frank Clark is something any team would want, and we're going to work hard to see if we can get that done," he said.
Jones has also"a Chief for life," so there seems to be incentive on both sides to get a deal done.