Why paying Chris Jones wouldn't 'cripple' KC Chiefs' future

Denver Broncos v Kansas City Chiefs
Denver Broncos v Kansas City Chiefs / David Eulitt/GettyImages

As Chris Jones' contract holdout has continued to drag out this summer, the more evident it's become that the Kansas City Chiefs and Jones are far apart on a long-term contract extension. Whatever the gap is in negotiations, it has to be pretty significant given that he is yet to report and has even suggested he could sit out regular season games.

With a disgruntled Chiefs player and heated contract negotiations come some pretty strong opinions. Jones' contract holdout has essentially divided the fanbase into taking a side. A portion of fans feel Jones has the right to hold out and the Chiefs should hand him a blank check. Meanwhile, the other half of the fan base thinks it may just be time to move on and that Jones signed a contract that he should honor.

In the process, Jones has gone from a beloved Chief worthy of a statue to the most polarizing and controversial figure on the team in a very short time.

A Chris Jones extension wouldn't cripple the KC Chiefs financially, contrary to popular belief.

In an ideal world, everyone wants Jones to remain in Kansas City and an extension seems like a no-brainer. What people are afraid of is the idea of "overpaying" Jones or crippling the future of the franchise by handing out a big contract.

This ideology has been fueled by the actions of general manager Brett Veach and the front office who have shown that they have a line drawn and a budget that they aren't willing to budge on. They've made tough decisions before and have refused to overpay players in the very recent past. Orlando Brown, Tyrann Mathieu, and Tyreek Hill come to mind as players who the Chiefs made the decision to move on from due to negotiations. Thus far, those decisions to move on have worked out and the Chiefs have been able to create a lot of depth and flexibility by standing firm, so fans have become a lot more comfortable moving on from just about anybody not named Mahomes.

One could make an argument, though, that Jones is more important and more valuable than any of those other players. There's no doubt that extending Chris Jones is going to be expensive. It's a big commitment with a fair amount of risk as Chris Jones is already 29 years-old. There is some hesitancy from fans to hand an almost nine-figure contract to a 30 year-old Chris Jones. All of the concerns are fair, but let's just say the Chiefs and Jones come to an agreement similar to what the market says he's worth. Would that truly "cripple" the future of the franchise?

One of the main arguments that comes from the side of not wanting to pay for Jones is that you can't pay him what he wants because it will cripple the future. When one says this, you have to ask a few questions. How would paying Jones hinder the team's future? Performance? Finances?

Let's start with the financial discussion. If and when Jones is extended, it'll likely be in the ballpark of $100 million. While it's a lot of money, you're also paying an All-Pro. Are we going to pretend the Chiefs have never handed out a contract like that before? The Chiefs gave out $100 million to Frank Clark and that didn't seem to cripple the future of the Chiefs. Not to mention that Clark isn't even half the player Jones is.

Many are going to point out that Patrick Mahomes was on a rookie contract at the time, but they still threw out a lot of money to other guys such as Sammy Watkins, Anthony Hitchens, and Tyrann Mathieu, so even though the money wasn't going to Mahomes, it was still going elsewhere. Again, didn't cripple the future of the team. Furthermore, Mahomes is still taking less money than he probably should and so is Travis Kelce. Both have been outspoken about how winning is more important to them even though they both could be making a lot more.

The Chiefs already have two of the best players in franchise taking discounts, but they haven't paid other players such as Tyreek Hill and Orlando Brown. At some point, the question must be asked; What are you saving your money for? Why are your best players taking pay cuts if you aren't keeping the other most important player on the team?

Fame-levelIndividually, you can explain why the Chiefs have moved on from all those other players. Trading Tyreek Hill and passing on paying him, for example, wasn't popular, but it made some level of sense. It worked out ultimately as the Chiefs won the Super Bowl but that doesn't necessarily mean that you can just as easily move on from other blue-chip players like Chris Jones and it'll work out every time. The goal is still to keep as many Hall of Fame level players on the team as possible.

If Kansas City extends Jones, it is going to cost a lot of money. That's common knowledge. Yet, it's not going to financially hinder the Chiefs if they do so. We're talking about Chris Jones here. Yes, paying Jones might mean that someone like L'Jarius Sneed or Willie Gay has to go but if you're truly honest with yourself, Chris Jones is better and more valuable than either of those guys and a pass-rushing defensive tackle has more positional value than cornerback or linebacker. Jones should be the priority over almost any other Chief who is looking for an extension.

Additionally, if you truly break down what a contract extension would look like it's hard to see how it would truly prevent the Chiefs from addressing other needs in the future. From a performance standpoint, if the Chiefs are to win anything in the next two to three years, the most likely scenario in which they do is with Chris Jones on the team. That is the option that is going to give them the best chance and the best possible defense. Many want to avoid paying Jones beyond 30 years of age which is understandable. There's always a level of risk in paying older players. However, it's probably safe to assume that Jones has at least another 2-3 really good or even great years. Let's say the Chiefs sign Jones to a four or five-year deal. All that truly matters are those first three years.

A frontloaded contract that keeps Jones here for the most important and impactful years of his career is well worth the price tag. Many just assume that Jones is going to decline after he hits 30 years old. He will decline at some point obviously, but it's unfair to assume it'll be any time in the next few seasons. If Chiefs fans used the same logic with a guy like Travis Kelce hypothetically after he turned 30 years old, we would've missed out on two of the best years of his career. Even Tyreek Hill had his best year with the Miami Dolphins after being traded from Kansas City and he doesn't look like he's slowing down, but that's besides the point.

When making the case to let Chris Jones go, sure you can say you don't want to pay a declining player, but who says he is declining? It's an assumption and not one based on anything but fear. If you remove that fear, extending Jones should be a no-brainer, right?

Similar to the Frank Clark contract, you're really only committed for those next two to three years of the contract and then you can make the last couple years of the deal dummy years essentially. For the latter few years of Clark's deal they had the option to restructure or cut Clark and save a good chunk of money. A majority of players rarely ever make it to the end of a five-year deal anyway. Those are just the years and the money you have to add to the contract to keep or acquire good players. Once again, it's probably not going to spell doom for the Chiefs like some are suggesting if they do the same with Jones.

At worst, Jones will likely slow down in a few years but he'll still be a productive player much like Ndamukong Suh who went on to sign a series of one-year deals around the NFL and was a productive player for a long time. Fletcher Cox for the Philadelphia Eagles also remains a super important player for their defense well into his thirties.

In conclusion, Chris Jones is a blue-chipper and a future HOF player. Typically, you do whatever is necessary to keep a guy like that. While factors such as cap space and age do matter for every player, it feels odd that we have to have this discussion regarding one of the best defensive players in franchise history, and extending Jones shouldn't keep them from having future flexibility or contending for championships. It is simply an overblown idea that is on the lower end of the spectrum of possibilities.