Kansas City Chiefs superstar defensive tackle Chris Jones continues to be absent from training camp. Jones is holding out for a new contract. On Tuesday, Jones posted a cryptic tweet that read like a goodbye. It ramped up rumors that Jones could be traded before September.
KC… I love you
— Chris Jones (@StoneColdJones) August 8, 2023
Skipping camp subjects Jones to a non-waivable fine of $50,000 per day. Jones is scheduled to enter the final season of a previously signed four-year deal worth $80 million. The market for defensive tackles of Jones’ caliber has since been reset and his deal has aged poorly. Jones currently ranks ninth-highest among all defensive tackle salaries.
General manager Brett Veach claims the Chiefs have no intention of trading Jones but NFL decision-makers aren’t always truthful. The Chiefs should sign Jones to a long-term extension that pays him more than $25 million annually, but a trade represents a potential alternative outcome. We’ve identified three potential landing spots.
The Bears still possess a league-leading amount of cap space ($27 million). Next offseason, they’re scheduled to have approximately $70 million in financial flexibility, per Spotrac. That puts general manager Ryan Poles in a unique position to make a notable splash as he continues ushering his Bears back to annual relevance.
The Bears are thin up the middle, where they’re counting on immediate contributions from rookie playmakers Zacch Pickens and Gervon Dexter Sr. They received just 4.0 sacks from their defensive tackles last season. There’s also a connection tying Poles to Jones. Poles served as the Chiefs’ director of college scouting when the Chiefs drafted Jones in 2016.
The Lions are straddled with the weight of expectations after concluding the 2022 regular-season campaign by winning five of six contests. The entire nation now expects the Lions to compete for the NFC North division title. Lions general manager Brad Holmes should leave no stone unturned in pursuit of meeting those projections.
Improvement is necessary for a defense that allowed a 32nd-ranked 392.4 yards per game. Aidan Hutchinson will continue his ascension to superstardom, but the Lions could use more pass-rushing production from their defensive tackles. There’s too much youth here, with the likes of Brodric Martin, Alim McNeill, and hopefully, a healthy Levi Onwuzurike vying for snaps. Acquiring Jones would completely transform this defensive line.
The Browns currently possess $14 million in cap space, which puts them in a decent position to acquire Jones and award him with an immediate raise. Looking ahead, their 2024 cap situation is a bit messy after handing out monster deals to Deshaun Watson, Amari Cooper, and more. Browns general manager Andrew Berry would need to get uber-creative in order to fit Jones into his long-term plans, but it would be a valiant effort worth attempting for a team that’s closer to annual contention than the general public realizes.
The Browns could certainly utilize Jones’ dominant interior presence. They arguably rostered the worst group of defensive tackles in the league last season. While the likes of Dalvin Tomlinson and Siaki Ika will help, new defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz still lacks a dominant pass-rushing 3-tech. The Browns would have to make sacrifices in order to get Jones, and although I’m not convinced it’s even doable, it’s worth a shot.
- Sep 29, 2023
- Sep 29, 2023