The Kansas City Chiefs have a big decision on the horizon. What to do about pending free agent and star defensive tackle Chris Jones? Ideally, they’d like to sign Jones to a long term contract. However, we all know that the business side of the NFL rarely operates ideally. So what does that mean for the Jones and the Chiefs? Perhaps it means the trade winds are blowing.
The folks over at Pro Football Focus recently predicted potential landing spots for each of their top-50 free agents in the upcoming class. In their prediction for Jones, he doesn’t become a free agent. Instead, Jones is signed to the franchise tag by Kansas City and flipped to the Indianapolis Colts for draft picks. The Colts turn around and sign Jones to a long term contract at four years with $18 million per year and $53 million total in guaranteed money.
Here’s a look at what PFF’s Anthony Treash had to say about Jones and his new home:
“With just $13.7 million in cap space and Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes still needing an extension, the Chiefs have to be careful with who they sign this offseason to sustain long-term success. Chris Jones is one of the best 3-techniques in the entire NFL. If it weren’t for Aaron Donald‘s dominance, Jones would own the highest pass-rush grade at 3-tech over the past four years. As our own Eric Eager broke down earlier this week, a likely scenario for the Chiefs is to apply the franchise tag to Jones and trade him for draft compensation. Indianapolis is a candidate for this type of deal, as they own two second-round picks and are desperate for pass-rush help, particularly on the interior where they ranked 29th of 32 teams in pressure rate generated.”
The Colts front office would know what they’re getting in Jones. Indy’s GM Chris Ballard was the Chiefs’ Director of Football Operations when Jones was drafted to Kansas City. He wasn’t around to watch his maturation as a player, but Ballard has watched his Colts face Jones. It’s clear that Jones would be an upgrade for any defensive line in the NFL, but the price of trading for him and signing him will be steep. Is Ballard confident enough to invest such capital in a player that isn’t a quarterback?
As for the return for Kansas City, PFF didn’t specifically mention the haul of picks or players. They referenced multiple second-round picks as ammunition, but I don’t think that gets a deal for Jones done. Maybe that’s the starting point of the conversation and the team accepts nothing less than what Frank Clark cost them a season ago, especially given that Jones would within the AFC conference.
Keep in mind, these are simply predictions from PFF. We’ll know soon enough if the Chiefs have any interest in tagging and trading Jones. The franchise tag period opens up in a week’s time. Also, the NFL descends on Indianapolis for the annual NFL Scouting Combine, and that’s where these types of trade talks begin to take shape.