KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Kansas City Chiefs are at a crossroads with their defensive star player.
Since defensive tackle Chris Jones has not participated in training camp or preseason games, the Chiefs have placed him on the reserve/did not report list.
Placing him on that list frees up a roster spot on the initial Chiefs’ 53-man roster and his regular season salary will not count against the salary cap as long as he has this designation.
General manager Brett Veach said both sides have had communication in the past two days and he hopes to see him playing next week.
“We’re gonna continue to press on and work hard, and a lot of respect on both sides of this thing,” Veach said on Wednesday.
“It’s been obviously well-stated how we feel about Chris and he feels the same way. So again, we’re just gonna keep working on this thing and, you know, we’re looking forward to next Thursday and hopefully, he’s in the lineup and he’s ready to go.”
All the time that Jones has missed has resulted in him racking up $2 million in fines that must be paid by him. If Jones doesn’t show up by Sunday, the total will go up to $2.2 million and could go up to $2.7 million before the regular season begins.
If Jones’ holdout goes into the regular season, he’ll be forfeiting his $19.5 million salary which is $1.083 million per week over 18 weeks.
The Chiefs traded for former Las Vegas Raiders defensive tackle Neil Farrell Jr. to help join the DL rotation. Fourth-year defensive tackle Tershawn Wharton is also set to return from a torn ACL suffered last season. Veteran Derrick Nnadi projects as a starter and rookie Keondre Coburn as a rotational piece.
But every piece of the defense was constructed because Jones’ game-breaking play is the core.
When and if he reports to the team, the Chiefs can apply for a roster exemption of up to two weeks for Jones to acclimate into game shape without game checks.
When the exemption ends, the Chiefs would need to restructure Jones’ contract to reduce his $19.5 million base salary, or restructure the contracts of other players to get under the salary cap.
And with $194,569 in cap space, the Chiefs would need to pull some strings to bring in additional help on defense.
Jones’ holdout will be the ultimate test of the power of Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid. The Chiefs only need an above-average defense at most to win Super Bowls with them at the helm. Jones has always been with the Chiefs for those years.
Without Jones, the Chiefs’ defense goes from above average to average at best. With little signs that a deal will be made in time for the start of the season, Chiefs fans should prepare mentally for some games without Chris Jones.