Everyone welcome Duncan to Arrowhead Guys! He was referred to us by the lovely ladies at Sprots Takes (Thanks GAT)!
We’ve finally got our guy. A guy who makes us understand what caused Terrell Owens to well up with tears and declare, “That’s my quarterback.” What a day. Only took forever. So with this certain superstar #15 having emerged as perhaps the league’s best quarterback and definitely it’s most dynamic and exciting, the possibilities in Kansas City seem boundless. For the first time in…well, perhaps since Lenny laced them up, the Chiefs enter the season full well expecting to go to the Super Bowl. And justifiably so.
But we all know that. The buzz started the moment Arrowhead Stadium cleared out last January 20th, and only intensified with the firing of Bob Sutton and the subsequent changes that have been made on defense. There is the sense that with this MVP in house, there is a window of opportunity open that should extend well beyond this season.
While this season is without a doubt garnering sky high expectations, an eye must be kept on the future and making sure the Chiefs do everything they can to maximize the window with Patrick Mahomes. A superstar at quarterback allows for an offense that is always dangerous, but a stout defense is key in maintaining that window. The Chiefs may already have the star player that keys up a superb defense and takes pressure off of Mahomes and company. I’m not talking about new arrivals Frank Clark or Tyrann Mathieu, although they will likely play important roles as well. This is about one Chris Jones.
Coming into last year, the Chiefs knew they had a talented player in Jones. He was thought to be a featured player alongside Justin Houston, Dee Ford and Eric Berry. What they may not have expected was an outright star turn from the 2016 2nd round pick. 15.5 sacks on the season, including a record-breaking 11 consecutive games with a sack. 19 tackles for loss. And a pick-six just for good measure. In the late season tilt with the Chargers, Jones spent more time in Philip Rivers’ lap than all of his nine children have.
Jones truly emerged as one of the elite defensive tackles in the NFL last season. And he only got stronger as the season went on. In a late season five-game stretch, Jones was just shy of matching the Pro Football Focus grade of Aaron Donald, who is not only widely considered the best defensive lineman in football, but the best defensive player period and possibly the best player overall. Lofty company for our homegrown star.
Over the last few months, Jones has sought to be paid in accordance with the company he keeps. And the Chiefs have held negotiations, but nothing substantial has come from them. This is a major concern. Without a doubt, the amount of money Jones is seeking is a high price. Grady Jarrett just signed a four-year deal with the Atlanta Falcons worth $68 million in order to avoid a franchise tag year. However, Jones plays at a higher level than Jarrett, so his camp will aim higher than that. Donald is in the second year of a six-year $135 million deal, with $87 million guaranteed.
While Jones has shown he can play at a Donald type level, he doesn’t have the accolades Donald does. Donald is a two-time Defensive Player of the Year and five-time Pro Bowler, while Jones has yet to even be named to a Pro Bowl (how he wasn’t last season is simply inexplicable). Jones may want to be paid like Donald, but even his agent has to know that is not going to happen. Given Jarrett is the latest defensive tackle to get a new contract, a deal somewhere between Jarrett’s and Donald’s deals seems reasonable. Something around five years and $100 million sounds about right.
Now I understand the Chiefs may not be eager to shell out that kind of money for just anybody. After all, that franchise QB of ours is one, maybe two years away from a likely record-breaking contract. But coming into this offseason, two of the focus points were to extend either Tyreek Hill or Jones. And given all of the drama surrounding Hill, the Chiefs are probably able to hold off until a later date to decide what to do with him. That leaves Jones as the main target. Yet he sat out all the offseason programs without a new deal and the Chiefs are about to start training camp with Jones likely still awaiting a new deal.
This doesn’t set a strong precedent for the Chiefs. I understand they have been burned lately when extending home grown defensive players. Eric Berry only played a handful of games after signing his deal. Justin Houston missed a bunch of the games after he got a new deal. But getting burned a couple of times doesn’t mean they should abandon retaining home grown players altogether. When looking at this roster, it is painfully clear the Chiefs have struggled in that aspect during the Andy Reid era.
From the 2013-2017 drafts only eight players out of 38 drafted still remain on the current roster. First-round picks like Marcus Peters and Dee Ford have been traded away for second-round picks. Third-round picks like Philip Gaines, KeiVarae Russell and Kareem Hunt never panned out, albeit each for different reasons. When projecting the 2019 starters, these failures are made more apparent, as only five offensive starters and two or three defensive starters were drafted by the Chiefs, depending if Juan Thornhill starts or not.
Watching Chris Jones play, it is obvious he has embraced being a Chief and playing in front of the fans at Arrowhead Stadium. He is the first player on key downs attempting to pump up the crowd, and tends to be the most jubilant when a big play happens. Just a few glances at his Twitter feed displays how serious and proud he is to be at the forefront of this new era of football in Kansas City.
@Chiefs we will be here next year. “Save this tweet”— Chris Jones (@stonecoldjones_) January 22, 2018
This is the kind of player the Chiefs should be embracing as a major factor of their future. He has watched players like Mathieu and Clark come in from other organizations and get paid handsomely, while he waits for his payday. Yet, he has embraced those players and the role they will assuredly play as fellow key players in this upcoming Super Bowl or bust season. That’s what a leader does. And new deal or not, he will do everything in his power to make sure the Chiefs season ends with a trophy and a parade.
Having him around beyond this season should be in everyone’s best interest. Patrick Mahomes may be the franchise, but his future and the Chiefs’ window of opportunity can be a much brighter one with Chris Jones continuing to run out of that tunnel at Arrowhead in red and gold.