The Chiefs played hard ball with Dee Ford and ended up trading him. Doing the same thing with Chris Jones would be a massive mistake by Kansas City.
Letting Dee Ford leave via trade this offseason was a questionable decision by the Chiefs. Letting the same thing happen with Chris Jones would be very different. If the Chiefs aren’t able to retain their star defensive tackle it could be disastrous for their defense.
The former Mississippi State star is staying away from the Chiefs’ offseason program in hopes of securing a new deal from the team. Jones is set to earn $1.19 million this season but that’s well below his market value. His current contract will expire after the 2019 season at which point the Chiefs will need to re-sign him to a new contract or retain him via the franchise tag.
Kansas City’s front office would be smart to take care of Jones. On the surface, it appears that GM Brett Veach is inclined to do just that. In Frank Clark’s introductory press conference he referred to Jones as a “foundational” piece of the Chiefs defense. It’s logical to think the Chiefs are willing to pay Jones like that sort of player if they truly regard him to be that kind of talent.
The simple truth is that defensive tackles who notch 15.5 sacks in a single season are a rare commodity in the NFL. That number was definitely inflated due to the number of shootouts the Chiefs engaged in last year, but it’s not as if Jones is a one-dimensional lineman. His PFF grade of 91 last season shows that he’s just as stout against the run as he is against the pass.
The Chiefs are going to need him to keep playing at an elite level if they really want to take a step forward on defense. Despite his standout 2018 campaign, the unit still surrendered 26.3 points per game last season. Patrick Mahomes can win this team a lot of shootouts, but it would be nice if the defense could secure their offense a few more blowouts with stellar showings of their own.
An unhappy Jones might not perform as well as he did in 2018. That’s precisely why the Chiefs need to move quickly to engage their franchise defender in talks about a new deal. Their goal needs to be bigger than simply preventing Jones from heading to a new team. They need to make him feel loved and appreciated. It’s a mistake if Veach and his front office don’t make a serious run at giving Jones a new deal this offseason.