With the Chiefs trading two defensive stars two years in a row, it raises a question; will Chris Jones be the next? The Chiefs, while young, have a super complicated cap sheet over the next few years. With looming contracts for Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce, and others coming up, some feel that the Chiefs may trade Chris Jones.
In this article, we’re going to cover the many different scenarios the Chiefs are working through at this moment, and analyzing a few packages that the Chiefs could receive for Jones.
Option 1: Re-sign to Long-Term Deal
While the Chiefs are limited in cap, it’s not impossible to re-sign both Jones and Mahomes to long-term deals. With the CBA about to boom and the way contracts are structured, the Chiefs could work around the two contracts. One could be front-loaded, the other back-loaded (more likely Mahomes).
If the Chiefs ultimately choose this decision, it wouldn’t necessarily turn out poorly. Jones is much closer to Justin Houston than Dee Ford in terms of salary. Jones isn’t a flash in the pan player. He consistently performs, putting up over 25 sacks in two years. With Frank Clark already under contract the tandem would keep Kansas City near the top of the league in defensive line play for 5 years to come.
If we’re looking at salaries, I would say Jones takes a deal for 5 years, 95 million, with around 65 guaranteed. That places him second on the defensive line tackle list in the NFL, right behind Aaron Donald. Jones can’t reasonably ask for Donald money, but with his play over two years, he can get close. Don’t expect Jones to take a pay cut, due to him not getting an extension worked out last offseason.
Option 2: Franchise Tag Him and Keep Him
This option seems more likely, which has the Chiefs forcing Jones to play on a franchise tag. His tag is worth around 16 million dollars, fully guaranteed. The Chiefs may want Jones for next year, then trade him the year after, when the new contracts set in. In terms of next year, that actually makes a lot of sense.
The issue that could come out of that would be Jones holding out for money. He’s a smart guy, and could view himself in a similar light to Jadeveon Clowney. Clowney knew they would never pay him, so he forced a trade out. Houston got way less value for Clowney than they could’ve in March, getting only a 3rd and a few players. For the Chiefs, they are going to have to have a plan for a dilemma like that. We can’t afford to have major controversy in our locker room.
Option 3: Franchise Tag Him and Trade Him
If I was a betting man, I would bet money on this is the most likely option. It’s not that I want to trade Jones, it just seems the path heads this way. Unless Jones takes a SIGNIFICANT pay cut to an annual salary of 14-15 million, then Kansas City is likely to trade him. They want to keep other players like Sammy Watkins and Kendall Fuller. If they want to do that, something has to give.
After a few days of looking around the league, here are a few packages that I could see being available for Jones.
Package 1 (from Seattle): 1st Round (27), 4th Round (123), 2021 6th Round for Chris Jones
Package 2 (from Miami): 1st Round (26), 3rd Round (70), 7th Round (224) for Jones + 4th Round Pick (128)
Package 3 (from Atlanta): 2nd Round (47), 4th Round (109), 2021 2nd Round for Jones
These packages might not seems super enticing, but I really feel they are fair packages for teams that want Jones. We’re either going to get a late first from a playoff team or a few seconds from a bad team. The package I like the most is the Atlanta package, honestly. Yes, there’s no first round pick, but getting two picks in this draft, both in the middle of their rounds, are really valuable. There’s also a good chance that Atlanta is not very good in 2020, making that pick even more valuable. It’s not unreasonable to say that pick might even be in the top 40.
While Jones is really valuable, if we get 2-3 picks this year, that allows us to move around the board more. We all know Brett Veach is a gambler in the draft, trading around in the high rounds often. You can’t really do that with only 5 draft picks, especially for a team with major needs on both sides of the ball. If we trade Jones, though, we end up with 7-8 picks, many in the first 4 rounds. We’ll be able to replenish all of our needs on the roster with all those picks.
My Prediction: Jones Gets Franchise Tagged and Traded
This will be unpopular, for sure. Don’t get me wrong, and I’d have to see the actual package before agreeing with it, because I don’t really like trading Jones. Like I said, he’s a rare playmaker on the interior of a pass rush. He allows the Chiefs to rush with four more often, which helps our coverage shells. It’s just what I think is most likely.
If we do trade Jones for any of those packages, I think we’re going to have to spend some picks on some pass rushers. Even if Emmanuel Ogbah comes back we have a serious lack of interior pass rushers. Breeland Speaks may help there, but counting on him to produce is a huge gamble. Even with Brendan Daly back, I don’t feel comfortable without Jones.
I understand the desire for more picks though. The best way to build a dynasty is to have a great coach (check), QB (big check), and plenty of cap space and picks to move around and makes moves. You always want to be flexible. Without Jones and his huge salary, we may be able to do it. It’s risky and makes us worse next year, but long-term, it may set us up for many more championships.