The Kansas City Chiefs have flipped the switch this season — and while Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid have seemingly found their rhythm when it matters the most — the 2024 Chiefs have relied on Steve Spagnuolo’s’ stiff defense for most of the season.
The Chiefs defense — led by All-Pro defensive tackle Cris Jones, the only player on that side of the ball to earn the NFL’s highest honor — finished No. 2 in the NFL during the regular season allowing 289 yards of offense per game and 32 touchdowns on the season. Only the Cleveland Browns were better.
For Jones, there’s been plenty of speculation this year’s playoff run could spell the end of his tenure with the franchise. He held out during the offseason and through Week 1 of the regular season due to a contract dispute.
Jones is set to be a free agent in the spring, setting him up for a payday the Chiefs may not want to match. If that happens, his eight-year stretch in Kansas City could come screeching to a halt. He reiterated that he isn’t worried about that right now, instead focusing on the task at hand and leaving the future to sort itself out.
Chris Jones has been both a one-man wrecking force since getting drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs in 2016, but also one of the vocal leaders of the team that’s helped lead this franchise to yet another AFC Championship game.
He closed out his second consecutive First-Team All-Pro season with 10.5 sacks, and 30 tackles, while recording half of a sack and a forced fumble in the playoffs so far.
In 2022, Jones finished the year with 15.5 sacks, the second time he’s reached that feat in his career with the other coming in 2016. The Kansas City Chiefs DL has recorded at least 6.5 sacks in every season of his pro career other than his rookie year, where he had 1.5 in limited action.
Heading into yet another chance to compete for his third Super Bowl ring, Jones was asked about how this year’s team was able to overcome adversity and silence the doubters.
“This is one heck of a brotherhood, that’s one thing I can say about this team, and we were able to pull it out.”
Kansas City Chiefs DT Chris Jones Ranked Top Free Agent For 2024
There’s been plenty of speculation Jones is playing is last season with the Chiefs, as he’s set for free agency in 2024 and due four a major payday.
PFF ranks Jones as their top free agent entering the 2024 offseason.
“It’s rare for a player of Jones’ caliber to reach unrestricted free agency, and Kansas City did not give up the right to franchise tag him for a second time when the two sides agreed to a reworked contract this past offseason,” PFF wrote.
“A tag for Jones would land north of $33 million, which perhaps helps him test the open market for the first time in his career. Jones is not only one of the best interior pass-rushers in the game right now; he’s one of the best ever. He is also capable of lining up outside of tackles as a five-technique, bending around the edge and getting home.“
PFF projects the Kansas City Chiefs star could earn a contract worth $120 million for four years, with $80 million guaranteed.
Ahead of the Chiefs final home game of the 2023 season, Chris Jones was asked about potentially playing on the only home field he’s known in his NFL career for the last time.
“It could be my last game in Arrowhead. Who knows? But most importantly, we’ve got a game to play. We’re trying to make a deep run in these playoffs. If it is my last game, we’ve got to make it worthwhile.”
But Sports Illustrated NFL Insider Albert Breer spoke with Chris Jones after the Chiefs’ 27-24 win over the Buffalo Bills in the AFC Divisional Round. Breer’s conversation with Jones tells us all we need to know regarding where Jones wants to be after the 2023 season.
He and I talked about that, including his suggestion that the Chiefs hold off on putting him on the edge earlier in the game, which paid off. He also mentioned how much defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo has meant to him over the past few years: “Spags is a wizard. I hope he doesn’t get a head coaching job, hoping he stay with me forever.” To which I had to ask … Does that mean that, after all the contractual animus you’ve had with the team, you’re planning to stay in Kansas City after all?
“If the Chiefs keep me, I’ll stay,” he says. “That’s always been the plan.
The Kansas City Chiefs have a major decision to make this offseason, but if they can find a way to keep Jones around, they will lock down the staple of their defense for years to come.