Skip to main content

Veterans have reported to Kansas City Chiefs training camp in St. Joseph, Mo., with one notable exception. Star defensive tackle Chris Jones has not reported to camp and he and the Chiefs "remain 'far apart'" on a contract extension, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.

Jones has one year remaining on his previous four-year, $80 million contract, where he is set to hold a salary cap hit of just over $28 million in 2023. 

This news comes shortly after the New York Jets and defensive tackle Quinnen Williams agreed to a four-year, $96 million deal with $66 million guaranteed on July 13, capping off a string of defensive tackle deals in recent months. Fellow d-tackles Javon Hargrave, Dexter Lawrence, Daron Payne and Jeffery Simmons all agreed to four-year deals worth upwards of $80 million this offseason.

However, with a reportedly large gap between the two sides, Jones's camp may be looking for a contract closer to the three-year, $95 million deal the Los Angeles Rams gave to superstar DT Aaron Donald. Donald's deal is worth more than $31.6 million per year with all $95 million practically guaranteed, per Spotrac.

All reports this offseason have indicated that Jones would be content as the second-highest-paid defensive tackle in football, given Donald's tremendously high salary and exceptional years of performance. However, Donald's $31.6 million average annual value is significantly higher than Wiliams's second-best $24 million. It still stands to reason that the Chiefs and Jones agree that No. 95 should be paid between the Donald and Williams ranges, but if Jones's agents plan to hold out for $30 million annually and the Chiefs drew a line at $25 million, it could take some time for the two sides to meet at an agreeable compromise.

It's also worth noting that total or annual dollars may not be the issue. Guaranteed money is king in the NFL, and if an extension doesn't give Jones considerable guarantees over several years, Jones's future as a Chief could be legitimately unknown for the first time this offseason.

As Jones enters his final year under contract,  he's set to have a $28 million cap hit with $19.5 million in base salary and $1.75 million in bonuses. (The remaining $7 million is a prorated bonus—money Jones has already received.) As noted by Joel Corry earlier this month, Jones could be franchise tagged in 2024, which would likely pay him just over $33.5 million.

Here's the point of all that math: With roughly $20 million to be made this year and $33.5 million on a potential franchise tag, Jones would likely have $53.5 million heading his way in the next two years in a play-it-out scenario, barring a significant injury or drop-off in 2023. Williams received just under $48 million guaranteed at signing earlier this month, with $66 million practically guaranteed.

Is Jones likely to play out 2023 and '24 all to hit free agency in 2025? Probably not. It also seems unlikely that the Chiefs would then theoretically let Jones walk for nothing but an addition to the compensatory pick formula. But as training camp continues and the questions pile up, both sides will need to keep their options open.

At age 29, Jones will be looking for long-term guaranteed security as at least the second-highest-paid interior defensive lineman in football.

Read More: KC Chiefs President Details Plans for Arrowhead Stadium Future