The tension was so thick you could cut it with a knife. Eyes locked on each other waiting to see who would blink first. The time to talk was over, and now the showdown had begun. No, I’m not talking about contract negotiations between defensive tackle Chris Jones and the Kansas City Chiefs. I’m talking about the three-way standoff scene in the classic western ”The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.”
As we all know, Jones and the Chiefs are in a good old-fashioned standoff. The star defensive player has been a no-show to all team activities thus far, in hopes of attaining a new contract. Kansas City, for their part, has stated that they will not negotiate until Jones reports to the team.
Just like in the Sergio Leone directed film, we have a three-way standoff. In the movie, it was between Blondie, played by Clint Eastwood, Angel Eyes, played by Lee Van Cleef, and Tuco, played by Eli Wallach. In the NFL version, it’s between Jones, the Chiefs, and the fans.
Movies and shows are scripted. The good ones are full of plot twists that keeps the audience guessing. You have the double-cross where the lead is stabbed in the back by a friend turned foe, as we saw by the dozen on Game of Thrones. Movies like Transformers have the nerd-turned-into-hero who saves the day. Fantasy films like Star Wars are just all-around remarkable and have your emotions all over the place, not knowing what to expect.
The situation between Jones and Kansas City is not a movie. We don’t have a villain and a hero. It involves people who have real-life decisions to make; decisions that will come with real consequences. We can, though, use a movie title to help break down the situation. In this case, we will use The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.
The Good for the Chiefs
The good in this whole made-for-TV scenario is both Jones and the Kansas City Chiefs.
Kansas City is coming off of one of the best seasons in their storied franchise history. Apart from the 1969 season, in which they won the Super Bowl, it’s hard to find a more magical year for K.C.
The team has the reigning league Most Valuable Player in superstar quarterback Patrick Mahomes. They overcame their long haunting playoff demon when they beat the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC divisional round of the postseason. The Chiefs also hosted the AFC championship game for the first time in team history.
As for Jones, he is coming off a breakout year where his 15.5 sacks were third in the league behind only Aaron Donald (20.5) of the Los Angeles Rams and J.J. Watt (16) of the Houston Texans. He also earned second-team All-Pro honors, was named November’s AFC Defensive Player of the Month, and was tagged with the fifth-highest mark at his position by Pro Football Focus. Why he didn’t make the Pro Bowl is as big a mystery as the existence of Big Foot or the Loch Ness Monster.
Jones is by far one of the fan favorites in Kansas City and has brought an energy to the team can be seen by anyone who watches him play.
With all that said about Jones, the bad is that it is his first season with that amount of production.
There is no denying that Jones is highly talented and has been improving every year since being drafted 37th overall in the 2016 NFL Draft. Anyone who plays alongside Jones will benefit from the double teams he commands and that in and of itself is valuable.
There is no question in my mind that Jones is worthy of a new contract. He was arguably the best player on a Kansas City Chiefs defense that didn’t have anything to be proud of, outside of the pass rush, in 2018. The question is, has he done enough to command the type of money that he most likely wants?
Every year the market set’s itself in the NFL. Donald’s contract has an average annual salary of $22.5 million with a guaranteed $87 million. The Chicago Bears gave defensive end Khalil Mack $90 million guaranteed with an Annual average of $23.5 million. On a lower scale, DT Fletcher Cox of the Philidelphia Eagles has a contract with $17.1 million in annual average salary with $63.2 million guaranteed.
While it benefits Kansas City to get a deal done sooner than later to avoid an increase in the market value, in reality, they don’t need to. Jones is under his rookie contract for another year, and the Chiefs can make Jones prove last season was not a fluke.
The bad for the team is that it just gave DE Frank Clark a contract worth an average annual salary of $20.8 million with $62.3 million guaranteed. One can argue Jones has done more than Clark has to deserve that from the Chiefs. After all, he is one of their own.
Now we get to the ugly, and it gets no more obnoxious than the last two times the Kansas City Chiefs found themselves in this same predicament.
The Chiefs gambled on big money contracts with DE Justin Houston and safety Eric Berry, and both times, they lost. They were hoping to get players who would continue to play lights out, what they got instead was two who couldn’t stay healthy.
I won’t get too deep into the whole ordeal, as you can read about it here, but it was certainly not pretty. More so in the case of Berry, who in 2018, due to a lingering heel injury, hit the field fewer times than a Bears kicker made field goals in the playoffs.
Both players are no longer with the team, and only Houston has found a new home with the Colts. That plays in favor of Jones, with the organization revamping the whole defense.
I believe a deal will get done and it could come by training camp. The Chiefs have to maximize every opportunity they can to win a Super Bowl, and Jones helps them do just that.
It’s a big gamble anytime a team takes a chance with a big contract, but its a risk the team needs to take. This is the NFL, and if you play to win, you got to pay to win. Jones is the only player left from the 2018 defense that played to get paid, and he is undoubtedly one who will get paid. The question is not if, but when, will he get his due?
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