A report from NFL Network came out early this morning, saying that the Kansas City Chiefs will place the franchise tag on Chris Jones. The official window to designate the franchise tag actually opens today (February 27). Interestingly, that makes this situation feel both obvious and more contentious. More on that later.
We knew that the Chiefs were tight in salary cap space entering the offseason. Several cut or trade candidates are on the table because of that. Most of the media are saying the franchise tag was the expected outcome for Chris Jones.
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When the team and defensive tackle last engaged in contract negotiations, the gap for guaranteed money was around $20 million apart from both sides. NFL Network has projected that Jones could make anywhere from $18 million to $22 million annually on a new contract.
At the NFL Scouting Combine on Tuesday, general manager Brett Veach mentioned how he believed talks were in a better place now, than when they left off before this past season. Who knows how true that actually is. What makes the timing difficult whether Jones gets a new deal this offseason, or plays on the franchise tag, is the CBA negotiations between the NFL owners and players. With a new CBA, each team would likely gain an increase in salary cap money to spend.
What Does This Mean?
The outcome may have been expected, but the timing of Chris Jones receiving the franchise tag is rather fascinating. Today is just the first day of the two week window to decide whether or not to use the tag. Could this early choice mean Kansas City and Jones are still nowhere near agreement in figures? That is very likely.
However, the franchise tag does allow the team extra time to negotiate with Jones before the start of the new league year (March 18). If he indeed plays in 2020 on the franchise tag, there is still a chance he will eventually sign a long term deal. As Veach said, “the goal and intent is to keep Chris Jones in Kansas City” for the long term. Rightfully so, as Jones has led the Chiefs in sacks in each of the last two seasons. He also has accumulated 33 career sacks in his first four seasons. Meanwhile, there are many different scenarios that could unfold after the franchise tag decision.
KC Or Somewhere Else?
If Chris Jones were to play on the tag in 2020, he would reportedly make $16.3 million for the season. It is not impossible that he plays on the tag for the Chiefs next season. Even past Kansas City defenders like Eric Berry and Justin Houston played on the franchise tag. They both wound up signing long term deals the following offseason.
Elsewhere, Jones could be part of a tag and trade option. We saw Kansas City was involved in this situation twice last offseason. After the Seattle Seahawks tagged pass rusher Frank Clark, they traded him to the Kansas City Chiefs for a first and second round pick. In addition, the Chiefs used their franchise tag on Dee Ford. He was ultimately traded to the San Francisco 49ers for a second round pick. This is not what I envision happening. Though if it does, the Chiefs could demand a hefty amount of future draft capital.
Overall, Chris Jones has expressed about wanting to stay with the Chiefs. It is a business, and these decisions can drag out for an extended period of time. Kansas City will look to trade some assets, and will definitely release players to create salary cap space. And one way or another, I believe Jones will play for the Kansas City Chiefs in 2020. The question will be is if it is on the tag or with a long term deal.
Be on the lookout for more Chiefs offseason coverage, including draft prospect profiles and free agency topics. For more great sports and NFL content, stay tuned to Full Press Coverage.
– Braden Holecek is the Kansas City Chiefs managing editor for Full Press Coverage. He covers the NFL. Like and follow on Follow @ebearcat9//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js Follow @FPC_Chiefs//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js and Facebook.