The Kansas City Chiefs are working to retain franchise-tagged defensive tackle Chris Jones on a long-term deal.
“We know how talented Chris is, and I think the franchise tag speaks for it,” Chiefs general manager Brett Veach said in a pre-draft conference call Thursday. “We also have a lot of time. I mean, I think the deadline to get a deal done is July 15, so there’s a lot of time to continue the dialog and to work on something with Chris. We certainly are going to work to maintain him, not just for next year, but for the future.”
Jones, 25, was tagged before he could hit free agency in March, after totaling 26.5 sacks and 49 quarterback hits across 29 games the last two seasons. He is set to make $16.1 million on the franchise tag in 2020, unless the sides can agree to a long-term extension before July 15.
Last season, the Chiefs franchise-tagged defensive end Dee Ford before trading him to the San Francisco 49ers for a second-round pick. Some have wondered if they could follow a similar path with Jones, given their lack of cap space (less than $1.7 million, per the NFLPA’s latest report).
Jones said in February he had “a mix of emotions” about the expectation he would be tagged.
“It’s a little hard,” Jones said. “It’s like, ‘What else y’all want me to do? I’ve got to go ahead and get 30 sacks — 35 sacks — to show y’all I can?’
“But the beautiful thing about the franchise tag that it can go one of two ways. The team can either long-term you to have you for the future, or they can trade you. Either way, I’ll get paid benefits.”
The Chiefs also have to budget for what is expected to be a record-breaking extension for reigning Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes sometime in the next year or two.
Veach said Thursday the team plans to extend Mahomes before he reaches the fifth-year option of his contract in 2022.
“Pat is a priority, and the way we look at it now with all that’s going on, I mean, we’re going to have a lot of time to work with,” Veach added. “Again, just Pat and his agents, Chris (Cabott) and Leigh Steinberg, they know that Pat is a priority. Pat isn’t going anywhere. He’s going to be here for a long time.”
—Field Level Media