KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City Chiefs defensive star is back with the team and ready to play.
Defensive tackle Chris Jones returned to the Chiefs this week from his months-long contract holdout after he signed a new one-year deal worth up to $25 million and still will be a free agent after the season.
Jones said he’s appreciative to the Chiefs front office and the Hunt family for adding more money to his contract even though it’s only for a year, and the prospect of doing this all over again still looms.
“That’s never disappointing when you’re able to get more money, right? So no, it’s not disappointing, man,” he said.
“It’s more so of… the Hunt family respected me enough to actually raise my salary up for me this little bit, so I can make a little more money this year and then next year I can go back again. It’s definitely [an] exciting thing to have. But right now I’m not even thinking about it.”
There were several reports that said Jones wanted to be the highest paid at his position which would have to surpass Aaron Donald’s $31.67 million average a year.
He said that’s not the case.
“Not at all. You know, that’s always a goal. But as important? No,” Jones said.
“Is it important for me to be the best at my position? Absolutely. I think that’s where my mind is at is actually being the best and being the highest paid.”
The team is certainly glad to have their centerpiece of the defense back in the fold after coming off of a 15.5 sack season ahead of a big road matchup against the 1-0 Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday.
“It’s good to have him back,” head coach Andy Reid said. “I thought the other guys did a nice job the other night when they had an opportunity. We really didn’t let that be a distraction. He needed to do what he did. Or had to do and we had to do what we had to do and now he’s back and that’s part of the business and everybody kind of puts the business side, you know, when you’re getting ready for a game on the side and go with the guys that are, that are there.
“We’re glad he’s back in though. Good football player.”
“I’m happy to have him,” quarterback Patrick Mahomes said. “Chris is not only a great player but a great person that’s in the locker room and he always has a smile on his face.
“Like I said, early in training camp, whenever he gets back, we’re welcoming with open arms and now we’re gonna try to go out there and find a way to get a win.”
Hitting incentives will help Jones hit the $25 million mark he desires since his base salary remains at $19.5 million.
Here are Jones’ contract incentives, per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport:
- $1 million for 35% playing time
- $1 million for 50% playing time
- $1.25 million for 10 sacks
- Another $500K for 15 sacks
- $1 million for first-team All-Pro and Super Bowl LVIII appearance
- $2 million for Defensive Player of the Year and Super Bowl LVIII win
Under the new deal, the Chiefs also retained the ability to franchise tag Jones after this season. NFL Network reports the tag contract would be about $32.4 million in 2024.
The 29-year-old said he is only worried about this season now that the deal is done. He doesn’t know if he’s in playing shape but is ready to get back to action.
“I can’t look forward to next year,” Jones said. “I’m glad to be back this year. This is my last year. Hopefully, we can get something worked out after the year for [the] long term. I reiterated multiple times: I plan to play for the Kansas City Chiefs for a long haul in my career.
“That doesn’t change because of the past situation.”
Reid said he’ll take things “day by day” in terms of how much Jones can play on Sunday.
Jones reiterated that the holdout was never personal and that he didn’t start disliking the Chiefs because of it. Sitting in a suite during the Chiefs’ season-opening loss was a different feeling for the veteran.
“Most importantly, we dropped the banner for the previous year. I think that was everything. I couldn’t miss that, no matter what we had going on inside the business aspect of it. And I was there to support my guys, man,” Jones said.
“That was a special night for us. We needed to win and capitalize on that but we got to move forward.
“You know, I got to see it from a fan’s point of view. I see how the fans be like ‘Y’all have us stressed out the whole game.’ I was kind of biting my nails and everything the whole game.'”
With the holdout over, that means no more oblivious social media posts from Jones. But he also wants the fans to know that the holdout was all business too.
“The fans of Kansas City, they’re very personable. The Chiefs mean everything to them. Like I said, man, so some are going to disagree. Some are going to agree and some just respect it, right? So I hope we can come to terms where I’m back. They can finally have a little understanding with me.
“We’re focused on Jacksonville. I hope they’re as excited as I am to get back. And looking forward to this week.”
The Chiefs hope to avoid an 0-2 start for the first time in a decade on Sunday.