Reviewing the KC Chiefs largest 2023 salary cap hits
#3: Chris Jones, Defensive Tackle: $28,291,668
Perhaps the most fascinating player on the Chiefs heading into the offseason is star defensive tackle, Chris Jones. After having the best season of his career, and the game of his life in the AFC Championship Game, Jones and his camp will be in talks with the Chiefs about a long-term extension. His contract is set to expire this upcoming season, so it’s not a completely urgent matter, but the team will have to address it.
His 2023 cap charge is scheduled to be $28.292M but none of that is guaranteed. Given a player of his caliber and him being 29 in July, I find it difficult to believe he’ll play out this season without any form of financial security. There’s a strong chance that he’ll sign a new contract this offseason, but whether that’s with the Chiefs remains to be seen.
The two most likely scenarios are the Chiefs signing him to a contract extension and the Chiefs trading Chris Jones to a team that will give him the contract he desires, similar to what happened with Tyreek Hill last year. One problem for Jones is that he’s going to turn 30 next year and Brett Veach hasn’t guaranteed a ton of money for players in that age range.
Let’s not focus on trading a superstar player, but instead project what a contract extension with Kansas City could look like. The closest comparison for Jones would be Aaron Donald, who signed a 3-year contract worth an average of $31.67M/year with $46.5M guaranteed last year. Given how Donald is one of the greatest defensive players in the history of the sport, I don’t think Jones will get the same contract he did. Since Jones is scheduled to earn $21.25M in base salary and other bonuses, any new money from a contract extension will be added to that long-term, but not on the 2023 cap hit. I will also write out the contract as a single four-year deal.
Here is what a potential Chris Jones contract extension could look like:
- 4 years, $103.75M, $16M signing bonus, and $65M guaranteed.
- 2023: $8M base salary (fully guaranteed), $14.041668M from prorated bonuses ($7M from the new contract), $22.041668M cap hit
- 2024: $22M base salary (fully guaranteed), $7M prorated from signing bonus, $29M cap hit
- 2025: $23M base salary ($7M guaranteed), $7M prorated from signing bonus, $30M cap hit, $21M in dead money if released ($14M if traded)
- 2026: $29.75M base salary (none guaranteed), $7M prorated from signing bonus, $36.75M cap hit, $7M in dead money if released/traded
This will be a very heavy contract for the Chiefs but they would only be locked up in the contract through 2024 and could get out of the contract in 2025 if his play drops off significantly in the next couple of years. The 2024 and 2025 cap numbers are high, but that’s the reality when a team signs high-level players.
I am also not convinced that Kansas City won’t trade Chris Jones in the coming months. There haven’t been any rumblings of a possible Chris Jones trade, but the news of a potential Tyreek Hill trade and the actual trade happened on the same day last March. I am in the agnostic camp when it comes to the Jones situation. On one hand, he’s a future Hall of Famer at his apex. On the other hand, the Chiefs would be handing out a gigantic contract to a player on the doorstep of 30. I wouldn’t blame Brett Veach if he decides to trade him for a first-round pick and more. If I had to pick, I’d re-sign him since the defensive line would be in an awful situation without him, but they could use the money saved from trading him to rebuild it for the long run.