Chiefs re-sign Jones

The Kansas City Chies finished one of their must-do maneuvers for the offseason by re-signing defensive tackle Chris Jones to a five-year contract. The signing came days after the NFL free agency period opens.

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March 11, 2024 - 3:02 PM

Kansas City Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones (95) answers questions during media availability on Feb. 8, 2024, at the team hotel in Henderson, Nevada. Photo by Tammy Ljungblad/The Kansas City Star/TNS

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs and star Chris Jones have agreed to the framework of a five-year contract that includes $95 million guaranteed and keeps the All-Pro defensive tackle off the upcoming free-agent market, a person familiar with the deal told The Associated Press late Saturday.

The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the contract details were still being finalized. But the money that is guaranteed is expected to come over the first three years with another two years that are not guaranteed.

Jones, who turns 30 in July, becomes one of the highest-paid defensive players in NFL history, falling just behind the $34 million average annual salary that is being earned by San Francisco pass rusher Nick Bosa. The deal eclipses the $31.6 million average of Rams defensive end Aaron Donald, who had long represented the financial benchmark for a defensive player.

Jones’ agents, Michael and Jason Katz, tweeted their congratulations in a post on X, formally known as Twitter, to “the highest-paid defensive tackle in NFL history.”

Jones tweeted moments later: “KC….5 more years of greatness! 3x”

Jones made it clear immediately after the Chiefs beat the 49ers in overtime in the Super Bowl last month in Las Vegas, allowing them to raise their second straight Lombardi Trophy and third in five years, that he was eager to chase a three-peat. But he first needed to reach an agreement to remain in Kansas City, which had proven difficult over the past two offseasons.

In fact, Jones and the Chiefs were at such an impasse entering the final year of his previous contract that he skipped the entire offseason program, including a mandatory minicamp and training camp, and Week 1 of the regular season. Jones piled up nearly $4 million in fines before agreeing to an incentive-laden one-year deal that got him back on the field this past season.

Jones responded by starting every game the rest of the way, including a meaningless regular-season finale against the Chargers, when he got the last sack he needed to reach 10 1/2 for the season and trigger a $1.25 million bonus in his contract.

Jones had another half-sack in a wild-card win over Miami in one of the coldest games in NFL history, then helped Kansas City win road games over Buffalo and Baltimore to return to the Super Bowl. In that game, the Chiefs fell behind early before rallying to force overtime, then winning the game on Patrick Mahomes’ touchdown pass to Mecole Hardman.

The Chiefs have been aggressive in trying to keep the core of the league’s second-ranked defense together next season.

Earlier in the week, the Chiefs used the franchise tag on L’Jarius Sneed, giving them the option of keeping one of the best cover cornerbacks expected to hit free agency on a $19.8 million contract next season. The Chiefs also could sign him to a long-term deal or even trade him, which not only would provide some draft capital but also some salary cap relief.

Shortly after tagging Sneed, the Chiefs signed pending free-agent linebacker Drue Tranquill to a $19 million, three-year deal that included a $4.5 million signing bonus and $12.5 million guaranteed. Tranquill signed a one-year deal with Kansas City relatively late in free agency last year, but he emerged as one of the unsung heroes of coordinator Steve Spagnuolo’s defense.

There is nothing unsung about Jones, though.

The fearsome defensive tackle has been a game-wrecker almost since the moment Kansas City drafted him in the second round out of Mississippi State in 2016. Jones moved into the starting lineup by the sixth game of his rookie season, earned second-team All-Pro honors while piling up 15 1/2 sacks in 2018, and then began a run of five straight Pro Bowls the following year.

He was voted a first-team All-Pro for the second straight season this past year. And while it is unclear whether that drove up his price, it almost certainly made keeping him in Kansas City a priority for the Chiefs with the start of free agency Wednesday.

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