The lengthy holdout saga between the Kansas City Chiefs and star interior defender Chris Jones has finally come to an end, and details of Jones’ revised contract have started to emerge. All numbers in this article are based on a report from Pro Football Talk.
How we got here
Chris Jones was originally owed $20 million in 2023 coming off the best season of his NFL career, earning the highest grade among interior defenders (92.0). Jones led the position with an 18.1% pass-rush win rate, 84 quarterback pressures and 15.5 sacks in 2022, earning first-team All-Pro honors for the first time. As a result, heading into the final year of his contract, Jones rightfully wanted a major extension.
We won’t get into the position market and Jones trying to get closer to Aaron Donald money than Quinnen Williams money, because that’s not really what this is about. At the end of the day, the two sides were never able to find an extension number that worked for both parties, so a holdout began.
For missing all three days of mandatory minicamp, Jones was fined $98,753.
There have been varying reports on the exact number of days of training camp and when the final day of fines occurred, but nonetheless, Pro Football Talk has Jones missing 42 days of training camp at $50,000 per day, so his fines there totaled $2.1 million.
Finally, Jones missed out on earning a $500,000 offseason workout bonus.
Altogether, that comes out to $2,698,753 in lost money for Jones through the offseason.
Last but not least, Jones forfeited one-eighteenth of his $19.5 million salary for missing the season opener on Thursday against the Detroit Lions, which adds an additional $1,083,333 in lost money.
Final tally: $3,782,086 in lost money
Jones reportedly signed a contract with the same $19.5 million salary, but he did not recoup the lost game check. So, he’ll earn $18,416,667 over the 17 remaining weeks of the regular season.
First, for those concerned with the salary cap, per the NFL CBA Article 13, Section 6(c)(xiii): “Any new or altered incentive bonuses renegotiated in a pre-existing contract after the start of the regular season in which they may be earned automatically will be deemed ‘likely to be earned’ during that season.”
Jones will earn $1 million for participating in 35% of the defensive snaps and another $1 million for participating in 50% of the snaps. Jones has exceeded these thresholds in every season of his career, but if we learned anything from Monday Night Football and Aaron Rodgers, nothing is guaranteed. Let’s say Jones earns both of these. He would then be down only $1,782,086 from his original contract.
Jones already had a $1.25 million incentive for reaching 10 sacks, which he accomplished last season with 15.5. He may earn an additional $500,000 incentive if he reaches 15 sacks. While Jones eclipsed both numbers in 2022, he has just one other season in his seven-year NFL career with 10 sacks — 15.5 in 2018.
Next, Jones gets $1 million if he’s named a first-team All-Pro and if the Chiefs make it to the Super Bowl. As we mentioned, Jones has one first-team All-Pro nod in his career in 2022. And as good as the Chiefs are, a trip to the Super Bowl is never an easy feat.
He gets another $2 million if he’s named Defensive Player of the Year and the Chiefs win the Super Bowl. Jones finished third in Defensive Player of the Year voting in 2022, the closest he has ever come to winning the award.
In total, Jones can earn $6.75 million in incentives. We would argue the $2 million based on snap counts is likely to be attained, and the additional $4.75 million will be very difficult to earn.
Earning the lost money back
Based on these incentives, the maximum value of Jones’ new deal is $25,166,667. However, he lost out on $2,698,753 in offseason fines and forfeitures, so it really breaks down to $22,467,914. Furthermore, we believe $4.75 million in incentives will be very difficult to earn, so he may ultimately net $20,416,667 which is an increase of just $416,667 above his original $20 million. And that’s only if he plays 50% of snaps in 2023.
Jones also did not secure a provision in the new deal to prevent a franchise tag after the season, so we could find ourselves right back in this same situation in less than a year. The Chiefs held firm through a Week 1 loss against the Detroit Lions and certainly came out ahead at the end of the day.