1. DT Chris Jones
The biggest priority for the Kansas City Chiefs is to find a way to retain their most talented defensive lineman, Chris Jones. The defensive tackle has proven to be a game wrecker for the Chiefs, picking up nine sacks last season and dominating against the run on the interior.
Players with Jones’ ability to both collapse the pocket and stuff the run from the defensive tackle position don’t grow on trees, and they get paid handsomely as a result. The most favorable comparison for Jones is Rams’ defensive tackle Aaron Donald, who just received a deal worth six years and $135 million.
That contract should serve as a baseline for Jones, who can expect at least $20 million a year if he were to hit the open market. The Chiefs simply cannot afford to let that happen, especially since the unit took a significant hit when Jones missed time with injuries this season.
The good news for the Chiefs’ faithful is that the scenario described above shouldn’t happen since Kansas City will use the franchise tag if they can’t work out a long term deal with Jones. The problem is that the tag will make it harder for them to fill out their other needs and could make it more difficult to structure the long term extension for Patrick Mahomes.
The entire offseason plan for Kansas City revolves on locking in Jones and Mahomes to long term deals before tweaking the roster around them. Jones won’t be leaving, but how his contract status unfolds could significantly impact the Chiefs’ plans going forward.