The Kansas City Chiefs are reigning Super Bowl champions. Breakout quarterback Patrick Mahomes and standout defensive lineman Chris Jones are two players most responsible for that title. Unfortunately for the Chiefs’ front office, this means both will need to be well-compensated for their service.
The Chiefs need to tread carefully with their young superstar QB. But their stated intentions of holding onto Jones for the long haul as well could be threatened by keeping Mahomes happy. Will the Chiefs be forced to sideline Jones as Mahomes’ contracts grow?
Patrick Mahomes’ huge raise after his explosive 2020 season
Let’s immediately lay the mystery to rest, in case some readers missed the obvious. The Chiefs did indeed pick up Mahomes’ 2021 option. While the value of his extension is up in the air, it’s expected to be as high as $50 million a year. Will Mahomes end up being the center of gravity in KC to the point that he loses the crucial role players around him?
The 2018 league MVP instantly transformed KC’s fortunes. He followed through by leading the drubbing of the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl LIV. Fans would riot if the Chiefs didn’t keep Mahomes, but in a tight QB market his upcoming extension could end up affecting the entire team. Case in point: what does the Chiefs’ defense look like if Jones is sent packing?
Why the Chiefs used their franchise tag on Chris Jones
Mahomes’ winnings could be the Chiefs’ overall loss. That is, unless he is willing to take a Tom Brady-style deal below his market value. It’s a legitimate conundrum, details Forbes, considering the team’s Super Bowl chances diminish rapidly as expensive players are sent off to open up cap space.
KC placed their franchise tag on Jones to buy time. His $16 million, one year deal will hold until at least the July 15th extension deadline approaches, reports USA Today. Jones, fresh off a Pro Bowl appearance, proved his worth to the franchise ironically through his absence. A groin injury in the middle of 2019 coincided with defensive woes for the Chiefs. He returned and set off an immediate turnaround.
Can the Chiefs juggle Mahomes’ value with their desire to keep Jones?
The Chiefs are stuck between a rock and a hard place due to salary cap issues. It’s to the point that paying their draft picks is an issue unless millions are shaved off the payroll. They also signed defensive end Frank Clark to a $105 million, five-year deal, reports NFL Trade Rumors. That had to be restructured to turn $5 million into an outright signing bonus to alleviate tight cap space.
It seems absurd to consider the possibility that Jones ends up as a victim of cap space in the short term. He racked up 33 sacks in four seasons, according to Pro Football Reference. That is the definition of a difference-maker, a player capable of turning the fate of an entire game on end. Both the organization and Jones himself are open about their desire to stick together.
Mahomes is the rare sort of player who could force such a situation. His generational-level talent is undeniable. His late comeback rally against the 49ers, for Kansas City’s first Super Bowl in 50 years, is already cemented in the team’s lore. Mahomes isn’t going anywhere.
But with Clark already on board for the long haul, Jones could be the incredible talent that falls out of a great team over cap space. It’s a familiar story, one that regularly swerves teams away from repeat Super Bowl success. Hopefully, the Chiefs find a way to keep the most effective sacker in the league on board.