KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Chiefs defensive tackles Chris Jones broke his silence about the impasse between himself and the club on a new contract, hinting on Twitter he may hold out if he doesn’t receive long-term deal before the league’s July 15 deadline.
“Or I won’t play,” Jones tweeted in reply to a discussion regarding the prospect of a new contract getting done with the Chiefs. “@LeVeonBell told me about this.”
Bell sat out the 2018 season after negotiations between the running back and the Pittsburgh Steelers broke down. The club had tagged Bell with the franchise designation, just as the Chiefs did with Jones this season. Bell declined the franchise tender of $14.5 million and did not report to the Steelers.
The Steelers declined to tag Bell in 2019, and the running back signed a free-agent deal with the New York Jets worth $52.5 million with $35 million guaranteed over four seasons.
Jones skipped the club’s virtual offseason program, just as he did with the club’s regular offseason workouts in 2019. He reported to training camp last July moments ahead of the league deadline to avoid a fine.
Chiefs general manager Brett Veach has publicly expressed a commitment to retain Jones for the long term, but the two sides have made little progress on a new deal. The Chiefs and representation for Jones have had little contact since the club tagged Jones in March, a source confirmed to Chiefs Digest.
The Chiefs placed the franchise tag on Jones, tendering him a $16.126 million contract for the 2020 season. The two sides have until July 15 to negotiate a long-term deal. After that date, Jones can only play under the franchise tag in 2020.
If Jones declines to report and refuses to sign the contract tender by the end of Week 10 of the NFL season, he would be ineligible to play the remainder of the campaign. The Chiefs would retain the right to place the franchise tag on Jones again in 2021 with a contract offer of $19.35 million.
Jones’ tweet comes on the heels of multiple reports suggesting Jones is demanding a contract in excess of $20 million per season. That would approach the contract of Los Angeles Rams’ Aaron Donald, who is the league’s highest-paid defensive tackle with a six-year contract averaging $22.5 million
The reported contract demands of Jones also would put him on par with Chiefs teammate Frank Clark. The Chiefs signed Clark last year to a five-year deal averaging $20.8 million per season.
Jones just concluded a four-year rookie contract that paid him $6.23 million over the past four seasons.