The Kansas City Chiefs overcame the odds following a midseason leg injury on franchise quarterback Patrick Mahomes by ending the season on a hot streak and winning the franchise’s first Super Bowl in 50 years.
Now comes the hard part: retaining the key pieces, and running it back for the 2020 season.
One of the key pieces that should be at the top of the Chiefs’ priority list this offseason is Chris Jones, who was a fundamental piece to the Chiefs season.
He was especially clutch in the playoffs, as even though his counting statistics seem pedestrian (1 solo tackles, 1 QB hit, three passes defended in two games), the pressure he was able to give opposing quarterbacks gave their defense the edge they needed to make the Super Bowl run.
Jones’ contract has now ended with the Chiefs, as he becomes one of the most highly coveted free agents in all of the NFL, and possibly the most dominant out of all defensive players on the market.
Unfortunately for the Chiefs, they may not be able to afford their elite pass rusher. Kansas City only has $16.5 million in projected cap space, which isn’t even enough to sign a slightly above-average tackle in Grady Jarrett of the Atlanta Falcons.
The Chiefs want any shot at repeating as Super Bowl champions, they need to do everything in their power to resign Jones.
The Pro Bowl pass rusher was one of the most dominant defenders of this season, recording 36 tackles, 20 QB hits, 9.0 sacks, four passes defended, and one forced fumble in just 13 games.
Imagine what the man can do if he remains healthy next season.
Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated suggested that if the Chiefs are unable to resign him, they may want to try to franchise tag the defensive tackle.
That in itself would still be difficult for Kansas City, as the tag for defensive tackles was set at $15.2 million last season, and is likely to go up.
Kansas City set a precedent last season that they are willing to trade highly skilled pass rushers, as they dealt away Dee Ford for a second round pick in this year’s draft without missing much of a beat in the pass rush department.
But Jones has the potential to be much better than Ford, and the Chiefs can’t afford to let Jones go to another Super Bowl contender like Ford did with the San Francisco 49ers.
They will have to make some moves before the March 1o franchise tag deadline in order to make room for Jones on their pay roll, but bringing him back should be a main priority.
Much like Mahomes is a franchise building block on the offensive end, if Jones stays healthy and continues to improve, he can be the Mahomes of the defense for the Chiefs. ]
Whether it’s a long or short term deal, the Chiefs should do everything in their power to keep Chris Jones in the Kansas City red next season. Letting him get signed by a savvy playoff contender would be a move that they would be kicking themselves over.