With less than a week remaining until the Kansas City Chiefs kick off the 2023 NFL season against the Detroit Lions, defensive tackle Chris Jones is still continuing his holdout. Jones, entering the final season of his existing contract, wants an extension that will take him into his 30s and has threatened to sit out until midseason.
Jones’ next deal is complicated both by Aaron Donald’s outlier $31.67 million average salary and a summer spate of defensive tackle extensions that saw other players at the position set a salary range that the Chiefs now want to work from.
Where do things between Kansas City and Jones with the regular season right around the corner?
Chris Jones Contract Update: Latest on Chiefs’ Reported Offer
The Rams gave Donald a straight raise in 2022 when he still had three years remaining on his contract, a concession rarely seen in the NFL. Donald is arguably the greatest defensive tackle in league history and had mentioned the possibility of retirement.
Fresh off a Super Bowl, Los Angeles capitulated by giving Donald a contract so far out of line with the rest of the defensive tackles that most player agents have seemingly disregarded it in recent negotiations.
Over the past several months, Quinnen Williams, Jeffery Simmons, Daron Payne, and Dexter Lawerence all signed extensions worth between $22.5 million and $24 million. The gap between those deals and Donald’s annual average value is at the crux of the disagreement between Jones and the Chiefs.
Kansas City is willing to replace the $19.5 million Jones is due in 2023 with a three-year, $74 million pact that would cover the 2023-25 campaigns, according to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. Jones would receive $70 million guaranteed for injury, which would rank No. 1 among DTs.
A three-year, $74 million extension would give Jones a $24.67 million AAV, just above Williams but still well shy of Donald’s yearly salary.
Instead, Jones wants to reach a midpoint between the Chiefs’ current offer and Donald’s $31.67 million. Per Florio, Jones is open to a three-year, $84.5 million deal that would pay him roughly $28.17 million per year.
The two sides need to account for roughly a $10 million difference before next Thursday’s game.
Jones has suggested he could sit out until Week 8, at which point he would still get credit for the season and be on track to reach free agency next spring. The 29-year-old would play the minimum number of games required in order to satisfy his contract.
Asked this week about Jones, Chiefs coach Andy Reid said that while other Kansas City players have “chosen to get their deals done and come in and play,” Jones “has chosen to go this route.”
The Chiefs are “bracing” to be without Jones at the start of the season, according to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.
— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) September 2, 2023
Meanwhile, tight end Travis Kelce wasn’t shy about beseeching Jones to return on the most recent edition of his “New Heights” podcast.
“Chris, can you please come back?” Kelce said. “You’re really scaring me, man. I don’t get it. You must know something that I don’t know because I just don’t get it.
“I really want to get another Super Bowl ring with you, brother. This is me bargaining you to just come back and play football for the Chiefs. Please, we need you. We need you bad, and I don’t know what the situation is.”
Jones was dominant while winning his second Super Bowl ring with the Chiefs in 2022. He finished third in Defensive Player of the Year voting and secured a first-team All-Pro berth after posting 15.5 sacks. Jones ranked fifth among all NFL defenders in pressures and was the only interior defender to finish in the top 10.
Meanwhile, Kansas City could desperately use the cap space that a Jones extension would afford them. The Chiefs are more than $8 million in the red and will need to create more space before the 2023 season starts, per Over the Cap.