Is Chris Jones bluffing the Chiefs on a long-term holdout?

Let's examine why Chris Jones is more likely trolling Chiefs fans, rather than holding out exactly eight games.

Super Bowl LIV - San Francisco 49ers v Kansas City Chiefs
Super Bowl LIV - San Francisco 49ers v Kansas City Chiefs / Kevin C. Cox/GettyImages

Chris Jones is not the villain here. He has earned every penny that he is asking for. In 2022, he was the best defensive tackle and a top-three defensive player in the NFL.

The issue with taking sides here is that we have no idea what Jones is asking for and what the Kansas City Chiefs are offering. The actual negotiation aspect of this has been somewhat silent, other than some reports that Jones wants Aaron Donald money.  With his sack production, he should be compared more to not only Donald but the TJ Watts and Myles Garretts of the world.

With that being said, September 7th is looming large and Jones has Chiefs fans very unsettled at the moment. There is a daily, very large elephant in the room, and that is Chris Jones is still in Miami as the Chiefs are readying to defend their championship with a defense that is centered around him.

At the risk of making a judgment on this seemingly never-ending unpredictable situation that is the Chris Jones contract saga, I would not read too much into Jones’ post on X (formerly Twitter) Tuesday. 

Jones seems to get a kick out of trolling Chiefs Kingdom, almost daily during this holdout. Here is his latest cryptic post. 

He then responded to someone asking when he was going to show up by answering with “Week 8.” Another account chimed in stating “That’d be a hefty tab.” Jones then stated, “I can afford it.”

There are several different reasons why this is most likely trolling and not a matter of fact.

The first reason why is that eight games is sort of an arbitrary number. In order to accrue a full season, an NFL player has to play at least six games.

This means that Jones could technically wait to report until Week 13 to accomplish his goals of becoming a free agent and getting his maximum value on the open market. So if he is willing to sit out eight games, why not just sit out 13? Not to mention sitting out has not exactly helped out the stock of players in the past. Just ask Le'Veon Bell. 

Of course, no matter how many games he sits out, he will still not likely hit free agency. Whether he plays 17, 8 or 6 games, the Cheifs will likely tag and trade him. That is assuming he will be so disgruntled that there is no salvaging of the relationship. This seems like the most likely outcome if he does not play a full season. 

Another reason one would think Jones would report before week one is that his base salary is $19,500,000 this season, per OverTheCap. That means he would miss out on north of $1.1 million per game which would total out to more than $9.1 million over eight games. 

He is right, he can probably afford that, but he is unlikely to make that back, plus all the $50,000 fines he has tallied up, in a new deal. Even if he can make up for that, it would still be a lot of money left on the table, on top of whatever his new deal will be from the Chiefs or another team. 

Jones is already going to be in the Chiefs Ring of Honor and likely the NFL Hall of Fame. His legacy is intact. However, the court of public opinion of him in Chiefs Kingdom could change. Look no further than former safeties Eric Berry and Tyrann Mathieu. 

They are still beloved by most fans, but the way their tenures ended left some sour tastes in the Kingdom's mouth. Berry’s final season with the Chiefs was defined by him being “day to day.” Mathieu’s ended without a contract extension which seemed to be a lock the offseason before. 

If Jones reports before week one or signs an extension, this saga will all be forgotten. Even if he does not re-sign and 2023 is his last season and he contributes to a postseason run, he will be remembered fondly by all reasonable fans. Again, he deserves to get paid as much as he can find as he enters his age 29 season. 

When he does come back, the most important aspect for the Chiefs is that he’s in a good head space. Unless the front office and Jones want to put pressure on Mahomes and the offense to score 30-plus points per game because of poor defense, they need him back in the building to repeat as Super Bowl Champions. 

One thing is true, though. Mahomes still stands by Jones but the situation going this far has caught him off guard. 

I am an old, nostalgic soul, so I am hoping for an extension over anything else. Yes, the last couple of years of his deal could get ugly, but he is at his absolute prime right now and the Chiefs do not have any awful contracts on the books. 

20 years from now, when these teams are being celebrated with statues and Hall of Fame busts – Jones, Andy Reid, Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce and Chiefs Kingdom, deserve to see them enshrined together.

Time will tell if Jones is a troll with a great poker face, or if the Chiefs and him are at the point of no return.  Many of us thought this would be resolved a long time ago. With the season looming, you would think an outcome would come soon. But in the words of Andy Reid at Wednesday's media session, “There’s been no communication. … Whatever happens, happens. The game goes on.”