If Chris Jones isn’t extended by July 15, he’s playing elsewhere in 2021.
The time to pay Chris Jones a contract extension is now.
July 15 is only a few weeks away. That is the date NFL teams like the Kansas City Chiefs need to come to a long-term extension with players who would otherwise have to play on the franchise tag. Though playing on the tag for a year isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as Jones hasn’t made big money as a second-round pick out of Mississippi State, it’s a worst case scenario for Kansas City.
The Chiefs have the second-worst salary cap situation in the league at roughly $3.57 million. While they can still afford to pay Jones what he’ll command on the tag, Chiefs general manager Brett Veach must accept he has at least two guys very close to next in line to get paid: Super Bowl LIV MVP quarterback Patrick Mahomes and perennial Pro Bowl tight end Travis Kelce.
Mahomes is still on his rookie contract and has been extended the fifth-year option. Giving him a bump in pay before year four in the league out of Texas Tech makes sense, but in these strange times, Veach doesn’t technically have to pay him right away. The Chiefs could technically tag Mahomes in 2022 if they absolutely had to. Doing so would have major karmic implications.
As for Kelce, he may very well usurp Mahomes in the line to get paid. If the Chiefs do not give Kelce top-tier tight end money before George Kittle of the San Francisco 49ers gets his mega deal, Kansas City can kiss Kelce good by after the 2021 NFL season. He’s not worth $16 million annually on the wrong side of 30 years old.
Chris Jones needs a new contract or he’s done with the Chiefs in 2021.
Would Kansas City want to keep Jones around for a very long time? Absolutely, but he’s going to command something in the vicinity of Aaron Donald Los Angeles Rams money. If he plays on the tag, the Chiefs will be too strapped for cash to play him what he’s adequately worth. So for good reason, Veach must get a long-term deal done in the next three weeks or Jones is gone.
The good thing is Veach knows this. Then again, so does Jones’ representation. This will be his first bite at the apple, while Veach has negotiated a handful of big contacts before. If there is any general manager in the NFL capable of paying top-tier talent like Jones, Kelce and Mahomes top-dollar and in that correct order, it would be Veach. The guy has his work cut out for him.
If the Chiefs don’t pay Jones now, they’re never going to and he’s playing elsewhere in 2021.