Did Frank Clark's Contract Seal Chris Jones' Fate in KC?
In his Monday Morning Quarterback column on SI.com, Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer discussed the "impasse" between the Kansas City Chiefs and franchise-tagged DT Chris Jones.
Breer notes that the Chiefs' negotiations with Jones sharply turned when the Chiefs traded for defensive end Frank Clark.
There’s an in interesting lesson in the Chiefs’ contract impasse with Chris Jones.
Whenever a team makes a big splash by acquiring a player from somewhere else, there will be ripples coming from within. A year after K.C. traded first- and second-round picks to Seattle for pass-rusher Frank Clark, then signed him to a five-year, $105.5 million contract, you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone in the building that would call the move a mistake. And really, it wasn’t one. Clark made an immediate impact as the Chiefs’ once-dreadful defense improved, and was one of the best players on the field for the franchise’s first Super Bowl win in a half-century. But even now, the impact of giving Clark what they did, which is what it was always going to take to get him signed (the franchise tag set the bar for comp, and Dallas’s DeMarcus Lawrence set the bar for money), is being felt. Jones wants $21 million per year, or thereabouts, and that figure isn’t something he and his camp pulled out of the sky. When the Chiefs paid Clark, they set the floor for Jones, who, obviously, could look at what they were giving someone from the outside, and wonder what that should mean for the earning power of someone who’d actually built up some capital inside the building before it was time to actually get paid. And so if you ask me whether or not Jones is going to get a deal by the July 15 deadline for one, I think it boils down to the Chiefs’ willingness to go to $21 million per with Jones, which is a result of their willingness to go there with Clark.
As we've written about how Jones is likely looking for that $21 million-per-year number, Jones' valuation has frequently stemmed from the deal that the Chiefs gave Clark after trading for him last offseason. Now, which side is more likely to budge?
Even as Jones has leverage due to his absolutely exceptional play — I've called him the best individual player on the Chiefs' defense — current circumstances, from the COVID-19 pandemic to the July 15 extension deadline, complicate things. My hope, still, is that Jones and the Chiefs meet around the $20 million annual salary mark, perhaps with a bit more guaranteed money from the Chiefs in exchange for a lower annual number, locking Jones into a major payday and keeping him from having to go through a Coronavirus-impacted season and still-tumultuous 2021 offseason without a long-term deal.