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The Kansas City Chiefs are working on an extension for defensive tackle Chris Jones that could exceed four years and $96 million, according to NFL Network’s James Palmer.
That means Jones could beat out Quinnen Williams as at least the second-highest-paid defensive tackle in the NFL.
NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported earlier Thursday that the New York Jets had agreed to a four-year, $96 million deal with Williams. The Los Angeles Rams’ Aaron Donald ($31.7 million per year) is currently the only DT making more annually than Williams ($24M AAV), per ESPN’s Rich Cimini.
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Jones finished as a finalist for the 2022 Defensive Player of the Year Award after matching a career-high 15.5 sacks in addition to a personal-best 44 tackles, 17 of them for loss. He is currently set to cost $28.3 million against the cap next season and become an unrestricted free agent in 2024.
ESPN’s Jeff Darlington said on SportsCenter Tuesday (h/t Chiefs Wire) that the Chiefs are “optimistic” a deal can be completed with Jones before training camp begins July 23.
“This is significant for a number of reasons, not just the contract itself,” Darlington said. “The Chiefs right now are just barely below the salary cap, one of the highest salary caps right now in the league. If they can do that deal with Jones, they can ultimately bring his number down.”
Kansas City currently sits less than $900,000 under the salary cap, marking the highest payroll in the NFL, according to Spotrac. Being able to restructure Jones’ 2023 hit with an extension could give the Chiefs more room to maneuver if they want to add more pieces prior to the start of the season.
That flexibility could be vital if the Chiefs plan on pursuing free agent targets like wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, who is reportedly waiting for another team to bid against the Tennessee Titans and New England Patriots in order to drive up his contract value, per NBC Sports’ Mike Florio.
NFL analyst and former Arizona Cardinals media member Mike Jurecki said Sunday that Hopkins is reportedly waiting for Kansas City to free up cap space with Jones’ extension so that the Chiefs can consider him as an option.
No matter what the Chiefs choose to do with it, the extra space granted by any flexibility with Jones’ reported extension will benefit the team. Ultimately, it could also help Jones pursue his goal of being named the 2023 Defensive Player of the Year.