After a series of reports from around the sports world that the Kansas City Chiefs and franchise-tagged DT Chris Jones were nearing a contract extension, Chris Mortensen of ESPN was first to report that the deal is finalized between Kansas City and their star defensive lineman.
Later reported by ESPN's Adam Schefter, the deal will be for four years and $85 million, with $60 million in guarantees. A four-year deal between keeps the Chiefs' Super Bowl-winning core together through at least the next two seasons, as quarterback Patrick Mahomes' 10-year extension doesn't kick in until 2022, leaving Mahomes with cap hits of $5.3 million in 2020 and $25 million in 2021.
A closer look at the breakdowns of guaranteed money and contract structures paint a picture of the deal that gets Jones the up-front money he was seeking and gives the Chiefs a relatively short-term deal to allow them to recalibrate before Mahomes' contract becomes more expensive.
Mortensen's initial short-but-sweet affirmative report came after progress was first reported by Soren Petro of Sports Radio 810 WHB.
Now, the Chiefs look to officially continue their #RunItBack campaign after locking in Jones, who had previously tweeted about potentially sitting out the 2020 season if no deal had been struck.
With Jones firmly entrenched in the middle of KC's defensive line, the Chiefs return 20 of their 22 Super Bowl starters, will regain injured second-year safety Juan Thornhill, and added an entire rookie class of draft picks, including running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire. The Chiefs also fully retained their 2019 coaching staff, highlighted by head coaching candidate and offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy and former HC and current defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo.
While some have expressed concerns about the Chiefs' long-term salary cap health, it's important to look at the bigger picture for Kansas City. Mahomes is set to be on the team for the next 12 seasons, but when looking ahead to 2023 — which would be the last year (and a largely un-guaranteed year) of Jones' deal — the Chiefs would have just Mahomes, Jones, Frank Clark and Harison Butker under contract, as of right now. Jones, Clark and Butker could all be moved on from in '23, freeing up chunks of money that the Chiefs can be budgeting for. Jones' deal will likely bring a cap hit of less than $10 million in 2020 before stepping up in 2021 and leaping to a much higher number in 2022, when the Chiefs currently only have four other players slated to make more than $10 million: Mahomes, Clark, Tyreek Hill and Anthony Hitchens. (Also worth noting that Hitchens will almost certainly be released before the 2022 season.)
Terez Paylor of Yahoo Sports has reported that "Jones will make a true $20m per year in the first three years of the deal," adding another wrinkle in an already-creative contract between Jones and the Chiefs.
2021 will be the most interesting cap management year for the Chiefs, but depending on Jones' cap hit next year, the Chiefs will still have plenty of flexibility around him.
Now, with Jones locked up for the long run, the Chiefs should be running it back for many years to come.
Want to read more about Chris Jones' dominance? Click here to read about how Jones has been even more impactful than you may remember.